Uber has reached a settlement agreement with Alphabet over its lawsuit against the ride-hailing company claiming theft of trade secrets.
Alphabet sued Uber for allegedly conspiring with a former Alphabet employee to bring over self-driving trade secrets to Uber in a bid to accelerate Uber’s autonomous technology.
As part of the settlement, Uber has agreed to pay Alphabet the equivalent of $245 million in equity. The agreement specifically requires Uber to give Alphabet 0.34 percent of Uber’s latest funding series. Sources involved in the negotiations say it’s based on a $72 billion valuation. That would peg SoftBank’s recent investment, which included $1.25 billion for new Uber shares, at a higher value than previously reported.
“We have reached an agreement with Uber that we believe will protect Waymo’s intellectual property now and into the future,” a Waymo spokesperson said. “We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology. This includes an agreement to ensure that any Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software. We have always believed competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads and we look forward to bringing fully self-driving cars to the world.”
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called Alphabet a partner in a statement announcing the settlement.
“To our friends at Alphabet: we are partners, you are an important investor in Uber, and we share a deep belief in the power of technology to change people’s lives for the better. Of course, we are also competitors,” Khosrowshahi said. “And while we won’t agree on everything going forward, we agree that Uber’s acquisition of Otto could and should have been handled differently.”
Alphabet’s Waymo had filed the suit after discovering its former top engineer, Anthony Levandowski had, downloaded 14,000 files before leaving Alphabet’s self-driving division, Waymo, to start his own company. Uber eventually acquired that company and hired Levandowski.
Khosrowshahi said the company still does not believe any trade secrets made it to Uber, but agreed that Uber would not use any autonomous technology developed by Waymo.
“To be clear, while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo’s proprietary information in its self-driving technology, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work.”
The settlement was announced on the morning Waymo attorneys expected to call Levandowski, who pleaded the fifth, to the stand.
For Uber, there were many reasons to settle the case particularly as Khosrowshahi expects to take the company public in 2019. For one, if Waymo convinced the jury that trade secrets did make it to Uber servers the ride-hail company could have had to pay about $1 billion in damages.
This is developing…