Uber To Pay $245 Million For Settling With Waymo

Uber agreed to a $245 million equity payment in order to settle Waymo's lawsuit alleging self-driving trade secret theft, Bloomberg reported Friday, citing official communication from Alphabet's subsidiary which Uber has yet to confirm. The two companies informed U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the settlement Friday morning PST, with the San Francisco-based court hence dismissing the case on its fifth day. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi already apologized for any oversights Uber made as part of its 2016 acquisition of Otto, a startup founded by Anthony Levandowski who was alleged to have copied over 14,000 sensitive documents before leaving Google's self-driving unit, later using them to advance Uber's own autonomous driving program after his startup was acquired for an equity payment amounting to nearly $600 million.

Waymo claims the equity settlement will give it a 0.34-percent stake in Uber, with that percentage being understood to include a $258 million investment in Uber Google made in 2013. As such, Uber is effectively returning the majority of Google's investment in the form of extra stock. The plaintiff was originally seeking up to $1.86 billion in damages, with the actual settlement representing well below 14-percent of that sum. Given the size of Google's previous investment and its currently claimed ownership of Uber, the agreed equity payment is apparently based on Uber's discounted valuation given to SoftBank last month as part of the Japanese company's $9.3 billion investment into the startup which valued it at $48.5 billion, approximately 30-percent down the $68.5 billion estimate from 2015.

Under the terms of the settlement, Uber will collaborate with Alphabet's autonomous driving division to ensure that it doesn't use any of the company's own technology regardless of how it could have found its way into its Advanced Technologies Group. The settlement doesn't require any admission of guilt on Uber's part, with Mr. Khosrowshahi still publicly insisting Uber doesn't believe it's using any stolen technology and dismissing any possibility of Mr. Levandowski colluding with the startup's former leadership to steal such solutions from Waymo. The dispute largely centered on the design of Uber's LiDAR, a laser sensor that's believed to be a crucial component of contemporary self-driving vehicles and which the plaintiff claimed was stolen from its facilities by its former engineer who was also fired from Uber last year after refusing to cooperate with its internal probe into the lawsuit's allegations. The U.S. Department of Justice is understood to still be leading its own criminal investigation into the matter after being requested to do so by Judge Alsup last May.

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