Four days, $245 million: How Waymo v. Uber came to an end

CNET | 2/9/2018 | Dara Kerr
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Judge William Alsup watches as Waymo's lawyer Charles Voehoeven addresses the jury in the Waymo v. Uber trial over allegedly stolen self-driving car trade secrets.

It's rare for federal Judge William Alsup to be late to the bench in San Francisco's District Court. Known for his punctuality, he opened the previous four days of the Waymo v. Uber trial promptly at 7:30 a.m. Yet on Friday, he still hadn't arrived by 7:48 a.m.

Moments - Robe - Alsup - Court - Announcement

Moments later, his black robe flowing around him, Alsup entered the court and made an announcement.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to begin things slightly differently this morning," he said.

Alsup - Court - Room - Lawyers - Uber

And then Alsup told the court room's lawyers, Uber and Waymo executives and handful of reporters -- including me -- that Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven would address the court.

"We've reached a settlement this morning," Verhoeven said.

Gasp - Echoed - Room

A collective gasp echoed throughout the room.

The case was expected to last at least three weeks.


Under their agreement, Waymo gets 0.34 percent of Uber's equity, worth about $245 million given Uber's estimated valuation of $72 billion. Uber also agreed to not incorporate Waymo's confidential information into hardware and software used in its self-driving cars. Waymo had been seeking $1.8 billion in damages.

Surprise - Settlement - Court - Battles - Silicon

The surprise settlement brings to a close one of the highest profile court battles in Silicon Valley history, pitting Waymo -- the self-driving car spinoff of Google's parent company, Alphabet -- against Uber, the world's most valuable startup.

The case centered on 14,000 "highly confidential" files that Google's former star engineer Anthony Levandowski allegedly downloaded before quitting in January 2016 to form his own self-driving truck company, Otto. Uber acquired Otto seven months later. Waymo claims its trade secrets found their way into Uber's self-driving cars.

Days - Testimony - Dozen - Witnesses - Details

Over the previous four days of testimony, roughly two dozen witnesses had given details on everything from what a...
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