Alphabet and Uber have been competing for quite a few years now, in the self-driving car space. Both companies have vested interest in self-driving cars, with Alphabet wanting to make the roads safer and Uber wanting to replace their drivers with these self-driving cars, and be able to pick up more passengers. A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that Alphabet’s self-driving car arm, Waymo was suing Uber. Supposedly a former employee at Waymo had downloaded a bunch of highly confidential files that showed the design for their LiDAR sensors, and then left the company, and went to Uber. So Waymo is now suing Uber for stealing those designs.
These two companies weren’t always on opposite sides of the spectrum. Alphabet is actually an investor in Uber, having invested around $258 million back in 2013. While some employees in Google Ventures, now simply GV, didn’t think it was a good idea, this investment is now worth around $3.5 billion, a pretty big change for any investor. But it may not be all that after this lawsuit is done. In fact, it could turn out that Waymo undermines GV and ends up costing them a pretty penny in this investment. In this new lawsuit between Waymo and Uber, whatever Waymo wins, GV will lose, which is unfortunate, but that’s just how these things go.
Uber of course has been calling Waymo’s claims baseless, but that will be up to a court to decide soon enough, as the case is heading to court. Especially since it appears that Uber has no intent to settle the case out of court. This case will have plenty of ramifications for the auto industry and the tech industry. As it really is the first case between two self-driving car makers, and it should be fairly interesting. Unfortunately, GV is likely going to lose out big time, with their investment from four years ago. But then again that is the game of investing. You win some and you lose some. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the lawsuit between Alphabet’s Waymo and Uber, it should get interesting.