Industry

Uber settles with Waymo on self-driving

Uber settles with Waymo on self-driving

The settlement came as the two sides were about to begin a fifth day in court over the dispute, which has been costing Uber time and money as it looks to rehabilitate its reputation on multiple fronts.

Alphabet Inc's Waymo sued Uber Technologies Inc a year ago, accusing it of theft of self-driving vehicle trade secrets.

Why did Uber settle now, after four days in court? The settlement gives Alphabet an additional 0.34 percent of Uber's outstanding stock. This week, the two companies met in court to fight it out, but instead of waiting for a verdict, Uber chose to settle the case.

Past year cast a particularly dark cloud over Uber, whose service is much loved but whose corporate culture was found to be lacking. It's possible but unlikely. And while Waymo has a lot - a lot - of circumstantial evidence, there didn't seem to be a smoking gun. "And while we won't agree on everything going forward, we agree that Uber's acquisition of Otto could and should have been handled differently". Furthermore, Uber doesn't have to pay this in cash. Its valuation is nearly certainly bunkem, too.

And though it's now able to forge ahead, Uber isn't entirely off the hook. It is, after all, just an app.

Waymo filed its lawsuit after it mistakenly received an email meant for Uber executives that included images of a LiDAR-related computer chip that Waymo said was identical to its own design. By 2017 (assuming GV didn't sell off much of its stake to other investors in subsequent rounds), that stake was worth about $3.5 billion. Alphabet was an early investor in Uber in 2013, although a year ago it also invested in Uber's competitor Lyft. Levandowski was frustrated by the pace of Google's program and wanted to start his own company. Or put it in such a hard position that it was able to acquire it? That would be a significant step.

The case grew so intense and significant that presiding U.S. District Judge William Alsup called for a criminal investigation into the accusations that Otto helped facilitate or was in some way involved in stealing trade secrets from Waymo, as a separate legal complaint from the then-ongoing civil case.

Uber settled its headline-grabbing lawsuit with Alphabet's self-driving auto unit Waymo. Otto was purchased by Uber and Levandowski became a key figure in the company's autonomous vehicle technology efforts.

"The settlement represents the desire of both companies to move past this issue and get on with the goal of developing self-driving tech", said Karl Bauer, executive publisher of Cox Automotive.

In the grand scheme of things, this whole lawsuit was just a big albatross.

The settlement allows Khosrowshahi to put another scandal behind the company after the tumultuous leadership of the firm by former CEO Travis Kalanick, who testified at the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Khosrowshahi says he does not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, or that Uber used any of Waymo's proprietary information in its self-driving technology.

On Friday, Uber's CEO didn't exactly apologize, but he struck a conciliatory tone in his blog post and brought up the fact that Waymo's parent company, Alphabet, was an early investor in Uber. Of course, we are also competitors. It has since acquired the permit but it still does not have self-driving cars transporting passengers in its home city. The cowboys and hucksters are out, the adults have arrived.