On Friday, Uber and Waymo came to an agreement concerning their trade secrets legal battle, setting the stage for competition within the self-driving market. Uber gave Waymo a 0.34 percent stake in its enterprise totaling up to $245 million and pledged that it would not use any of Waymo’s software or hardware within its vehicles.
The fight was based on Google’s sister company alleging its chief engineer, Anthony Lewandoski resigned to start his firm and took several vital documents including blueprints for the Lidar sensor that he had developed. Uber then bought the startup for 600 million dollars in equity and put the engineer in charge of the self-driving research and development wing.
New CEO Stops the Bleeding
The settlement was probably due to the efforts of the new chief of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi who had been trying to clean house after the issues that Kalanick left in his wake. The lawsuit had been a constant public relations debacle since it was filed in January 2017. Almost every other week, some new evidence would appear and reveal Uber’s sordid corporate culture, all the while, Lewandoski played the 5th which to put it mildly did not do assist its reputation. Understandably, Uber needed to put an end to the mud raking before the damage became actionable.
Khosrowshahi’s statement in the wake of the statement comes off as repentance to the public and a pledge to take responsibility. On the other hand, the reason for Uber’s settlement could be due to the fact Lewandoski’s name appeared on the witness list for Waymo on Wednesday night. Even if the assumption was he would plead the fifth, there is no telling what would actually happen when he was called to the stand, so the board may have lost its nerve and decided to diffuse the situation rather than have an explosive mess that would have resulted in a climax to their PR nightmare.
Uber Making Things Right
Uber had also faced a number of other issues such as ongoing lawsuits over the status of employment for its drivers, millions of dollars in fines from both state and federal agencies, not to mention individual complaints poor hiring records of both women and minorities. Khosrowshahi has been described as the ‘adult’ at the helm whose sole mission is to put aside any bad blood between Waymo and Google while finding a way for the company to rights its minor wrongs.
Earlier, this week former Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick described the way Google invested in Uber and how it was perceived as a ‘big brother’. However, the move by ‘big brother’ to pursue ridesharing on its own terms was not taken very well and so the justification to move in on self-driving was basically equal parts self-preservation and spite.
At the present, the next move from the firm would be to prove that it is able to capitalize on the research done by its ATG group as well as teams in Toronto, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh. The YouTube channel though is quite lean and there has been no content within the past four months. It will also consider self-driving for the freight transport industry for both local and long-haul routes.