Uber agrees to $245m payout to settle Waymo dispute


Alphabet Inc's (O:) Waymo self-driving vehicle unit and ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc have settled their legal dispute over trade secrets, the two companies said on Friday.

"The prospect that a couple of Waymo employees may have inappropriately solicited others to join Otto, and that they may have potentially left with Google files in their possession, in retrospect, raised some hard questions", Khosrowshahi wrote.

Dara Khosrowshahi, the new CEO of Uber who took office at the end of summer 2017, rejected the idea that secrets were transferred from Waymo to Uber or that Uber used any information belonging to Waymo. This includes an agreement to ensure that any Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software.

For Waymo, the settlement protects the technology that has vaulted it into the early lead in the self-driving auto market and provides a measure of personal vindication for Google co-founder Larry Page, who is now CEO of Alphabet Inc., the parent of both Waymo and Google. Of course, we are also competitors.

"My job as Uber's CEO is to set the course for the future of the company: innovating and growing responsibly, as well as acknowledging and correcting mistakes of the past", Khosrowshahi said in the statement.

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A source close to the deal told Ars that the settlement is a "significant haircut" over the initially proposed arrangement of $1 billion.

"As we change the way we operate and put integrity at the core of every decision we make, we look forward to the great race to build the future", he said in the statement.

Still, at least some outside attorneys not involved with the case suggest that there must be some questionable behavior.

"I think people are going to be a little bit more careful to make sure that if they're going to misappropriate somebody's trade secrets than apparently happened here and they move quicker to get it patented".

Kalanick, a polarising figure who resigned as Uber's CEO last June, had already spent part of two days on the stand reviewing old texts between him and Levandowski indicating that they were willing to go to any lengths to catch up with a self-driving vehicle project that Google started in 2009. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, left, and Anthony Levandowski, co-founder of Otto, pose for a photo in the lobby of Uber headquarters in San Francisco. The payout likely spared Levandowski from some public scrutiny, as, according to The Verge, he was expected to invoke the Fifth Amendment when he took the stand. Waymo still has an arbitration claim pending against him.

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Uber wound up firing Levandowski last May after he refused to relinquish his constitutional rights against self-incrimination when questioned about whether he stole trade secrets before leaving Google.

Waymo filed its lawsuit almost a year ago, adding to Uber's woes with allegations of a bold high-tech heist orchestrated by its former CEO, Travis Kalanick, and a former Google engineer.

Uber is still facing an ongoing as the result of questionable activities that its former and current employees were alleged to have engaged in, possibly including illegal wiretapping, hacking, and more.

Waymo accused Uber of stealing key technologies for the development of autonomous vehicles. The settlement gives Alphabet an additional 0.34 per cent of Uber's outstanding stock. The judge in the case didn't allow that figure into the trial.

The trial had already aired some of Uber's dirty laundry, including meeting notes quoting Kalanick saying, "The golden time is over".

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