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Uber Reaches Settlement With Waymo Over Trade Secrets Lawsuit

10 February 2018

According to Bloomberg - citing "a person with knowledge of the accord" - Uber will pay 0.34 percent of its equity to Waymo, which translates into approximately $245 million Dollars ($309 million CAD).

The turn of events followed four days during which Waymo, at least in open sessions, didn't appear to make much progress proving its accusation that Uber had stolen trade secrets for its own self-driving auto program. Furthermore, Uber doesn't have to pay this in cash.

Uber's rehabilitation is still a work in progress, but in striking a surprise legal settlement with Waymo, Khosrowshahi successfully stared down the enemy and freed himself of a major distraction hanging over the company. The ride-hail has also agreed not to use any of Waymo's hardware and software trade secrets in its self-driving cars.

Perhaps Waymo's lawyers had a hidden trick up their sleeve which they showed to Uber last night prompting the sudden decision to settle.

Khosrowshahi's statement says his company will be "taking steps with Waymo that ensure that our LiDAR and software represents just our good work", suggesting some kind of tech monitoring arrangement. Uber remains a private company so the opportunity to sell those shares are limited. Though the new equity further ties Alphabet to Uber's eventual success (Google Ventures has already invested over $300 million in the company), this offering is a meager olive branch. A source at Uber familiar with the agreement said the ride-hailing company will provide Waymo with a 0.34 percent equity stake in Uber, which has been valued at $72 billion.

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It's fantasy economics to imagine that Uber is really worth $72bn when other organizations are able to offer exactly the same service.

An early morning statement was released from Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi regarding the settlement, which Khosrowshahi said was about finding a way to "set the course for the future of the company".

Uber attorney Bill Carmody called the accusations "quite a story" and argued that it's not clear that Uber ever recieved or used the eight alleged trade secrets Waymo asserted that it had received.

The lawsuit cost Uber precious time in its self-driving auto ambitions, a key to its long term profitability.

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Self-driving research is an important initiative for Uber.

The amount is significantly less than what Waymo and Uber had discussed earlier in the week when the two sides neared a $500 million settlement, but that figure was not approved by the car-booking company's board, said people close to the discussions.

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.

The sudden turn of events in Waymo's favor suggests that specific details related to its trade secrets were revealed in court sessions that were closed to the media and public.

The executive added the company's acquisition of Otto "could and should have been handled differently" as the prospect that former employees "may have potentially left with Google files in their possession, in retrospect, raised some hard questions".

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Uber Reaches Settlement With Waymo Over Trade Secrets Lawsuit