Uber has agreed to settle the lawsuit brought against it by Waymo for theft of some of the company’s trade secrets.
As part of the settlement, Uber has agreed to work with Waymo to ensure that the company’s LIDAR and software represents just the work of Uber engineers.
The agreement also comes with a financial settlement of roughly $244 million in stock (that is 0.34 percent of Uber’s equity, valued at its Series G-1 round, which gave the company a $72 billion valuation).
An early morning statement was released from Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi regarding the settlement, which Khosrowshahi said was about finding a way to “set the course for the future of the company.”
Khosrowshahi said that he did not believe that any trade secrets actually made their way from Google’s self-driving car program into Uber’s nascent efforts. “But 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.
A spokesperson for Waymo said:
We have reached an agreement with Uber that we believe will protect Waymo’s intellectual property now and into the future. 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.
The full text of Khosrowshahi’s statement is below:
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. In doing so, I want to express regret for the actions that have caused me to write this letter.
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. 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.
To our employees, in particular the great and talented people of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group: I am inspired by your passion and commitment to bringing self-driving vehicles to life. Over the last year, you’ve been distracted from your mission. For that I am sorry.
There is no question that self-driving technology is crucial to the future of transportation—a future in which Uber intends to play an important role. Through that lens, the acquisition of Otto made good business sense.
But 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.
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.
While I cannot erase the past, I can commit, on behalf of every Uber employee, that we will learn from it, and it will inform our actions going forward. I’ve told Alphabet that the incredible people at Uber ATG are focused on ensuring that our development represents the very best of Uber’s innovation and experience in self-driving technology.
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. We believe that race should be fair—and one whose ultimate winners are people, cities and our environment.