Ex-Lyft Executive Gives Up Laptop in Uber Defection Suit

Travis VanderZanden, the ex-Lyft Inc. executive who defected to Uber Technologies Inc., voluntarily turned over his laptop computer and other devices to a computer forensics firm as he sparred with his former employer over claims he took confidential information with him to his new job.

Lyft and Uber, San Francisco-based startups that are locked in a worldwide rivalry to dominate the multibillion-dollar car-sharing business, have accused each other of engaging in rough tactics to recruit drivers. Lyft escalated the battle last week by suing VanderZanden for breach of contract.

Lyft alleged in a Nov. 5 lawsuit that VanderZanden, who joined Uber last month as president of international growth, transferred Lyft’s most sensitive documents to his personal Dropbox account. Lyft asked a state court judge in San Francisco Nov. 7 to order him to turn over evidence to a forensic specialist and return any documents he had.

The request was denied, VanderZanden said through Liz Cohen, a spokeswoman. He has denied taking Lyft’s information and said Lyft permitted him to have confidential information on personal devices and hasn’t shown he used or disclosed it, according to court filings. He turned over his Apple MacBook Air, Apple iPad and three hard drives to a private investigative and computer forensics firm on Nov. 6, according to a court filing.

“VanderZanden no longer has access to the Dropbox account” and has “no Lyft physical documents,” his lawyer David Eberhart said in a court filing.

‘Significant Step’

Lyft said the Nov. 7 hearing was a “significant step forward.”

“The surrender of his personal devices, the promise to preserve all files and documents and his surrender of control of his Dropbox account to an independent expert was more than we were seeking in our” request for a court order, Lyft said today in a statement.

The judge’s decision denying the company’s request for a restraining order couldn’t be confirmed in court filings.

Lyft accused VanderZanden of transferring documents containing future financial information, strategic planning, customer lists, private personnel data and international growth plans to his personal Dropbox account in the days and months before he left the company.

VanderZanden said in court filings he didn’t have a job offer from Uber when he told Lyft Chief Executive Officer Logan Green in August that he had decided to resign, and later had discussions with members of Lyft’s board about replacing Green and becoming CEO. Lyft said in a statement that those assertions are false and said VanderZanden contacted board members asking them to make him CEO, which the board didn’t support.

The case is Lyft v. VanderZanden, GCG-14-542554, California Superior Court, San Francisco County.