It was around this time last year that Waymo brought legal action against Uber, alleging that a former Waymo employee had stolen autonomous driving technology and provided it to Uber. Over the year, the story got progressively mesmerizing, including revelations of Uber having elaborate corporate espionage programs and Judge William Alsup growing increasingly irritated at both sides for working to conceal information relevant to the case. The foot-dragging caused the trial to be delayed until this year, and now, after only four days of testimony (including some from former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick), it’s already over.
Uber has agreed to compensate Waymo with $245 million worth of Uber shares, giving Waymo a 0.34 percent ownership stake in Uber. As part of the settlement, Uber and Waymo will also work together to ensure that Uber does not use any of Waymo’s technology in their autonomous driving systems. Although new Uber CEO Dana Khosrowshahi expressed “regret” about the company’s actions, he still claimed that Uber had not used stolen technology.
Fittingly, the settlement comes after both sides ending up looking bad. Waymo had originally sought a $1 billion settlement last year, but had to bring their asking price down after it started to appear that, despite Uber’s corporate malfeasance, they hadn’t actually used the stolen technology that Waymo was accusing them of using. In their coverage of the trial, The Verge noted that after four days of testimony, Waymo hadn’t been able to put together a coherent case for how they had been wronged by Uber.