"If we are not tied for first, then the person who is in first, or the entity that's in first, then rolls out a ride-sharing network that is far cheaper or far higher-quality than Uber's, then Uber is no longer a thing," -- Travis Kalanick on self-driving cars in 2016

Silicon Valley likes to talk about “mafias”: a diaspora of well-experienced, and frequently well-compensated executives and founders who’ve all gone through the glory and hell of building the same company and suddenly find themselves with nothing to do when it sells, shutters, or goes public.

A bit like real mafias, the guys from, say, Netscape or PayPal are deeply connected to one another, trust one another, and have likely seen things they don’t want to relive.

Unlike real mafias, members of tech mafias don’t generally speaking collude to do wildly illegal and immoral things.

And then there’s Uber. And yet another area in which that company could break the Valley mould.

There’s long been “lawbreaking” in Silicon Valley: Playing in the grey area of online gambling, illegal file sharing, disrupting hotel and taxi laws. But there’s a difference between disruptive lawbreaking and deliberate, sustained criminality. Just as there’s a difference between driving five miles over the speed limit and committing armed robbery.

As we learn more about the timeline of Anthony Levandowski’s alleged theft of Waymo trade secrets, a growing chorus of commentators are openly speculating just how far over the criminality line Uber might have crossed...