Waymo Settles Trade Secrets Lawsuit With Uber as well as Everyone will be Friends Again

Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet, unexpectedly settled its trade secrets lawsuit Friday, ending a nearly yearlong legal battle between two of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies.

The surprise settlement, in which Waymo obtained 0.34% of Uber’s equity, valued at $245 million at a $72 billion valuation, comes four days after the start of the trial inside case. This kind of week Waymo called former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick as well as board member Bill Gurley to the stand in a San Francisco federal court for questioning.

“We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that will each company develops its own technology,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a statement. “This kind of includes an agreement to ensure that will any Waymo confidential information will be not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware as well as software. We have always believed competition should be fueled by innovation inside labs as well as on the roads as well as we look forward to bringing fully self-driving cars to the entire world.”

The settlement, which will be notably less than the billion-dollar figures that will were being discussed when the lawsuit was first filed more than 11 months ago, ends what could have been years of costly litigation between both sides.

Both companies had discussed the possibility of appealing the settlement had This kind of not gone their way, while there was also discussion of Waymo bringing another lawsuit for the theft of trade secrets regarding self-driving car software. This kind of suit only pertained to self-driving car hardware, particularly the design of Lidar technology, which allows an autonomous vehicle to sense its surroundings in real time.

In his note to employees, brand new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi struck an apologetic tone as well as addressed the “mistakes of the past” made under Kalanick’s leadership. Kalanick resigned in June after months of turmoil within the company stemming by allegations of widespread sexual harassment, discrimination, as well as questionable behavior at the executive level.

“The acquisition of Otto made not bad business sense,” Khosrowshahi wrote, referring to the self-driving truck startup founded by former Google engineer as well as autonomous vehicle pioneer Anthony Levandowski. “nevertheless the prospect that will a couple of Waymo employees may have inappropriately solicited others to join Otto, as well as that will they may have potentially left with Google files in their possession, in retrospect, raised some hard questions.”

Kalanick said in a statement, “No trade secrets ever came to Uber. Our sole objective was to hire the most talented scientists as well as engineers to help lead the company as well as our cities to a driverless future … I remain proud of the critically important contributions Uber ATG [Advanced Technologies Group] has made to the company’s future, as well as I look forward to their inspired efforts becoming a reality on the roads in cities around the entire world.”

Khosrowshahi, in his letter, was adamant that will no trade secrets by Waymo made their way into Uber’s self-driving car project as well as noted that will “we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar as well as software represents just our not bad work.” He also called the people at Alphabet Uber’s “friends” as well as “competitors” who “share a deep belief inside power of technology to change people’s lives for the better.”

Friday’s settlement, in which both sides agreed to pay their own legal fees, will be surprising given how far the lawsuit went.

Waymo sued Uber almost a year ago on Feb. 23, alleging that will a vast amount of technology was taken after Uber acquired Otto. that will acquisition, which happened in August 2016, was required to cost Uber $680 million.

Waymo cried foul on the deal, noting that will Uber only bought the company months after its founding as well as discovered that will engineer Levandowski had taken company files with him upon his departure in January 2016. that will fact, as well as a host of others, were used to bolster Waymo’s case against Uber, leading to months of depositions — in which Levandowski pleaded the Fifth — as well as culminated in This kind of week’s trial.

For Waymo, the settlement amount will be a little takeaway in a much larger picture. Having worked on self-driving vehicles since 2009, the company was able to show that will This kind of will be willing defend its lead inside space at great personal cost as well as was able to get a concession by Uber on software, which was not part of This kind of lawsuit (no details were immediately available).

For Uber, the settlement removes one of the last remnants of Kalanick’s legacy as well as allows Khosrowshahi to move forward by apologizing, something he’s done with everyone by transportation regulators in London to the 1 percent at Davos. By mentioning that will Uber as well as Waymo are “partners” in his letter, he also seemed to leave the door open to future partnerships, however unlikely that will may seem after a bitter year.

This kind of’s also unclear what This kind of means for Lyft, Uber’s biggest competitor inside US market, which took a $1 billion investment led by Alphabet last October. Alphabet, which previously invested in Uber in 2013, at This kind of point owns significant chunks of both companies, whose cutthroat rivalry has been well documented over the past few years.

A Lyft spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ryan Mac will be a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News as well as will be based in San Francisco. He reports on the intersection of money, technology as well as power.

Contact Ryan Mac at ryan.mac@buzzfeed.com.

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