Uber’s $245 Million “Regret” over Waymo Dispute

by: The Knowledge Group

February 13, 2018


Uber and Waymo have been embroiled in a dispute that was finally resolved this past week. Uber will have to pay $245 million of its shares to Alphabet’s Waymo group. Waymo’s self-driving vehicle unit will receive the money to settle the legal dispute pertaining to trade secretes. The settlement was announced just prior to the fifth day of testimony in San Francisco’s federal court.

About the Lawsuit

Waymo filed suit against Uber in 2017, claiming one of the company’s former engineers who went on to become the chief of Uber’s autonomous vehicle project took thousands of confidential documents with him. This lawsuit stalled Uber’s autonomous vehicle developments, a vital cog of its long-term business plan. Uber fired the autonomous vehicle chief after the lawsuit was served. The company is now well behind its original plans to use fleets of self-driving vehicles in Silicon Valley.

How Waymo Won

In order to prevail, Waymo’s attorneys had to prove Uber really did acquire trade secrets. Furthermore, the attorneys had to prove Uber used those trade secrets in its own technology. It took merely four days of testimony to spur the intended result. The executive at the center of the lawsuit, Travis Kalanick, testified Uber’s primary objective was to hire the best engineers. Following the settlement, he stated if the trial reached a conclusion, Uber would have emerged victorious. Unfortunately, Uber is now shelling out $245 million to make this mistake go away and rededicate its focus to bringing autonomous vehicles to North America in 2018.

Uber is Happy to Move On

The resolution to this lawsuit closes a dark chapter in Uber’s history. Waymo will receive a 0.34 percent stake in the popular ride-sharing company. This equates to $245 billion based on Uber’s current $72 billion value. Furthermore, the agreement guarantees Waymo’s information won’t be used in Uber technological developments. It is worth noting that spending $245 million can actually be construed as a win for Uber as Waymo initially sought a billion dollar payday.

Uber Shifts Into High Gear for the Future

Uber executives originally planned for self-driving automobiles to reach 20 cities by the year’s end. The aim was for 50 cities by the end of next year and 150 cities by the time 2020 rolls around. In fact, these dates are actually displayed in court documents. The company has raised $14 billion in new funding. Look for Uber to ramp up the development of its autonomous vehicles now that the Waymo dispute is in the rearview mirror. It won’t be long until autonomous Uber vehicles are next to you on the roads.