Uber ‘settles Waymo trade secrets case for $245m’

Uber Technologies Inc will pay $245 million worth of its own shares to Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self-driving vehicle unit to settle a legal dispute over trade secrets, Reuters reported.

The deal means Uber’s new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi can move past one of the Uber’s biggest controversies.

The settlement on Friday was made just before the fifth day of testimony was about to begin at a jury trial in San Francisco federal court.

Waymo sued Uber last year, alleging that one of its former engineers who became chief of Uber’s self-driving car project took with him thousands of confidential documents.

As part of the deal, Uber agreed to pay equity valued at about $245 million, a Waymo representative told Reuters.

The settlement also includes an agreement to make sure Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated into Uber technology, a Waymo representative said.

In a statement, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said: “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.”