Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

Uber Settles With Waymo/Google For $245 Million In Stock

Uber Settles With Waymo/Google For $245 Million In Stock

In its lawsuit, Waymo claimed that one of the leaders of its self-driving vehicle development program, Anthony Levandowski, took 14,000 confidential files relating to the venture's laser-scanning technology with him when he left to help create a self-driving truck company called Otto.

Uber Technologies Inc is paying US$245 million to Google's self-driving vehicle spinoff to end a legal brawl that aired out allegations of a sinister scheme, which tore apart the once-friendly companies. Kalanick has acknowledged discussing plans for Otto with Levandowski before he started it, though both he and Uber deny using any Google technology to build a fleet of self-driving cars.

According to Waymo, the settlement will be paid in Uber stock and is equal to 0.34 percent of the company's value, which was $72 billion after its most recent fund-raising effort led by Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank.

Levandowski was also set to take the stand Monday, when he was expected once again to repeatedly take the Fifth, a move that Uber's lawyers feared would prejudice the 10-person jury against the company.

In settlement talks a year ago, Waymo had sought at least $1 billion from Uber, and wanted an independent monitor to ensure that Uber would not use Waymo technology in the future, Reuters reported.

Uber acquired Otto previous year for $680 million, and made Levandowski the leader of its self-driving auto development effort.

After four days of testimony, Waymo had presented little public evidence that Uber used Waymo's trade secrets.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a separate statement that "while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber ... we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work".

Elizabeth Rowe, a professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, analysed about 150 trade secret verdicts through 2014 and said $245 million would rank as the second highest. The US Department of Justice opened a criminal probe at the prodding of Alsup, although it has not publicly identified the targets of that investigation. Mr. Levandowski was not a defendant in the case. Because Waymo now owns a stake in Uber, the two companies are, ironically, brought closer after their yearlong legal battle. The company has also suffered from turmoil at the top with the ousting of Mr. Kalanick in June and a bitter board dispute.

According to Kalanick's testimony, Page had become "very upset" in 2015 when he learned Uber had hired robotics engineers from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh for its own self-driving auto division. It is far from achieving those ambitions. Although it has acquired the necessary California permit, it still does not have self-driving cars transporting passengers there.

However, Uber's settlement will not necessarily help Levandowski.

Stock in the privately held Uber would be transferred immediately to Alphabet, which was an early Uber investor and remains as one of its largest shareholders.

"Had the trial proceeded to its conclusion, it is clear Uber would have prevailed", Mr. Kalanick said. Waymo affirmed the new partnership in their statement, saying "We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology".

After spending almost a week in the courtroom, Waymo and Uber came to an agreement on Friday, Feb. 9, in which the latter will pay the Google/Alphabet division a significant sum of money (in our view - perhaps not in Google's).

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