When Fraser Robinson joined the board of Vanguard Logistics Services, a California freight forwarding company, he had ulterior motives, the company alleged last week.
This US logistics company claims a former board member stole company secrets to set up his own competitor.
The company accused Robinson of deceiving the company before going on to steal some of its most valuable, confidential information in a complaint last week.
They claim that Robinson, a former Uber executive, conspired with another former co-worker there to steal algorithms, data, & other intellectual property 2 years ago in order to start their company, Beacon Technologies Ltd.
In a 50-page complaint filed with the US District Court in Los Angeles last Tues., Vanguard Logistics Services called Beacon, which also specialises in freight logistics, “a copycat competitor that used Vanguard’s stolen assets to cause further, ongoing harm to Vanguard’s business.”
Says the court document, Robinson knew nothing about logistics, freight forwarding, or shipping services when he came to the company in late 2017. He also lacked capital, assets, technology, trade secrets, & intellectual property.
To compensate, the company claims Robinson began “copying & taking data, documents, trade secrets, IP, technology, strategic plans, business plans, customer lists, supplier lists, & business partner lists.”
In Oct. 2018, he allegedly gained access to a document-sharing site used by Vanguard & technology developers Jiffy Ship & copied secret, proprietary information.
Because of his job, Robinson reportedly also had access to product demos & prototypes, research & development data, sales & pricing data, analytics engines, & other IP, trade secrets, & proprietary information – access he abused according to Vanguard.
On information & belief, the complaint alleges Robinson & Dmitri Izmailov, the other former Uber executive, used Beacon servers, emails, and/or accounts to access & steal even more confidential information from Vanguard & its affiliates.
All the while Robinson reportedly hid his efforts to start a new company while attempting to obtain equity in the company he was allegedly defrauding.
“During this time, his contracts with, roles in, & fiduciary duties to Vanguard & its owners were still in effect; he was still a consultant, advisor, board director, & steering committee member; & he still had obligations to perform his duties for, & in the best interests of, Vanguard & its owners,” the complaint reads.
A spokesman for the company last week stated Robinson betrayed Vanguard’s trust plus its non-disclosure agreements.
“We trusted Fraser Robinson as a director & fiduciary of the company, this included legal stipulations around non-disclosures & protection of Vanguard’s IP, & he betrayed that trust,” a spokesman for Vanguard Logistics commented last week,
“It is fitting that Fraser Robinson launched a company founded on fraud & named it Beacon, a word that describes a warning signal. Anybody doing business with him should certainly beware.”
The UK-based Beacon, which has been backed by Uber founders Travis Kalanick & Garrett Camp, Google’s Eric Schmidt, & Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, announced a $15m funding round on May 31.
Beacon has countered the claims.
“We are surprised to hear that Vanguard have filed these proceedings. The papers have not yet been issued by the court & have not been served,” the company told publications,
“What we have seen so far is an ill-thought out action which is entirely without merit & which has been brought in the wrong jurisdiction. Any claim will be robustly defended.”
Vanguard points out in its complaint that the company took steps to protect its confidential information, providing it on a need to know basis, maintaining password protected & encrypted networks, & required employees to sign NDAs & other agreements
– it even made efforts to “mark, segregate, & safely file, store, & transmit Confidential Information.”
Judging by the allegations in the court filing, that did not stop Robinson, however.