Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Cory Rios

Ex-Uber CEO saw Google founder as a 'brother'

Ex-Uber CEO saw Google founder as a 'brother'

What remains unclear is whether the lawsuit or the verdict actually impacts Uber's self-driving auto strategy.

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

The latter had accused self-driving technology engineer Anthony Levandowski of stealing trade secrets when he left Google to launch self-driving truck start-up Otto, which was snatched up by Uber.

Uber has announced that it's reached a settlement with Alphabet's autonomous auto division Waymo. But the trial is now over. The payout is a 0.34 percent equity stake in Uber to Waymo which totals around $245 million, according to CNBC.

Waymo alleged that Levandowski downloaded over 14,000 files before leaving the company to found his own startup, which was bought less than a year later by Uber.

The lawsuit cost Uber precious time in its self-driving vehicle ambitions, a key to its long-term profitability. Neither he nor Uber admitted to obtaining trade secrets.

The deal was an opportunity for early investors and employees to cash in their shares and gave lossmaking Uber a much-needed financial boost.

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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi followed up with his own statement, admitting the acquisition of self-driving company Otto should have been handled differently. The self-driving auto project that Google started seven years ago has grown into a company called Waymo.

Khosrowshahi also said Uber was committed to ensuring the self-driving-car hardware it develops "represents just our good work" and does not include any intellectual property from Waymo.

Google's Waymo unit says Uber agreed to take steps to make sure Waymo technology isn't used in Uber's autonomous vehicles.

Uber attorney Bill Carmody called the accusations "quite a story" and argued that it's not clear that Uber ever recieved or used the eight alleged trade secrets Waymo asserted that it had received. Google has long invested in autonomous driving as one of its key projects for the future, and Uber saw self-driving cars as critical future part of its plans to offer more ride-sharing services around the world.

In one text, Kalanick agreed with Levandowski's comment that "second place is first loser".

Waymo lawyers convinced Alsup to allow them to play the clip, implying that Kalanick, like Douglas' character, Gordon Gekko, was willing to do anything in the pursuit of riches. "Through that lens, the acquisition of Otto made good business sense", he writes. He also said "as far as I know" no trade secrets came from Waymo to Uber. Bill Gurley, a former Uber board member, has said Kalanick duped the board at the April 11, 2016, meeting when it approved the deal by describing the investigation of Levandowski as complete, and the results of the report as clean.

"Had the trial proceeded to its conclusion, it is clear Uber would have prevailed", Kalanick said. He's looking to improve Uber's relationship with drivers, negotiate with cities such as London that threaten to boot the service, and generally present a public face that contrasts with the take-no-prisoners approach of his predecessor.

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