Uber has reached a settlement with Alphabet’s Waymo in their legal battle over self-driving trade secrets. As part of the deal, Waymo will get a 0.34 percent stake in Uber worth about $245 million.
Waymo accused Uber of lifting its trade secrets, but now, amidst a very public court battle, both firms have agreed “to ensure that any Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software,” Waymo tells CNBC.
In a blog post, Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said no trade secrets are believed to have made their way from Waymo to Uber. Nor is any Uber system using Waymo’s self-driving tech. Nevertheless, “we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work,” he wrote in his post.
Uber allegedly stole the trade secrets by acquiring self-driving start-up Otto, which was led by former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski. Waymo accused Levandwoski of lifting a 9.7GB trove of confidential files from his former employer before starting his new company.
Uber denied the accusations, but the legal battle threatened to sink the company’s own self-driving project. Waymo wanted the court to suspend Uber’s autonomous vehicle research until the case was settled, and reportedly sought at least $1 billion in damages from Uber, along with a public apology. Uber fired Levandowski in May 2017.
On Friday, Uber’s CEO didn’t exactly apologize, but he struck a conciliatory tone in his blog post and brought up the fact that Waymo’s parent company, Alphabet, was an early investor in Uber.
“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,” Khosrowshahi wrote. “Of course, we are also competitors. 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.”
The settlement removes a major headache for Uber’s new CEO, who took on the role in August.