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, allowing Uber's chief executive to move past one of the company's most bruising public controversies. The settlement brought an abrupt halt to the captivating case just before the fifth day of testimony was to begin at a jury trial in federal court in San Francisco. In a lawsuit filed last year, Waymo said that one of its former engineers who became chief of Uber's self-driving car project took with him thousands of confidential documents. The lawsuit cost Uber precious time in its self-driving car ambition, which is a key to its long-term profitability.
Uber fired its self-driving chief after Waymo sued, and it is well behind on its plans to deploy fleets of autonomous cars in one of the most lucrative races in Silicon Valley. The settlement allows Uber's chief executive officer, Dara Khosrowshahi, to put another scandal behind the company and move ahead with development of self-driving technology, following the tumultuous leadership by former CEO Travis Kalanick, who testified at the trial. As part of the deal, Waymo gets a 0.34 percent stake in Uber, worth about $245 million based on Uber's current $72 billion valuation, a Waymo representative said. The settlement includes an agreement to ensure that Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated into Uber technology, which Waymo has said was its main goal in bringing the lawsuit.
In settlement talks last year, Waymo had sought at least $1 billion from Uber, and wanted an independent monitor to ensure that Uber would not use Waymo technology in the future, Reuters reported. Waymo also asked for an apology. Uber rejected those terms as non-starters. Elizabeth Rowe, a professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, analyzed about 150 trade secret verdicts through 2014 and said $245 million would rank as the second highest.