As former Uber chief Travis Kalanick prepared to take the stand this week in a courtroom duel that’s gripped Silicon Valley, Waymo lawyer Kevin Vosen privately made a late settlement offer: Would the ride-hailing startup pay $500 million in stock and let an outside monitor review its autonomous-vehicle software?
Only days later, Waymo accepted half that quantity, abruptly halting a occurrence that had rocked the emerging driverless car industry and slowed the progress of two leaders in the field. The behind-the-scenes discussions, recounted by people familiar with the occurrence, indicate why both companies took the unusual pace of aiming the fight in the middle of a trial.
On Tuesday, when Waymo’s $ 500 million request came in, Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi, along with lawyer Tony West, thought it was a pretty good deal. In October, the Alphabet Inc . unit had demanded$ 1 billion. This wasn’t the new management team’s duel. They were cleaning up Kalanick’s mess. They’d merely dedicated new investor SoftBank Group Corp. a major discount on inventory, so another tiny slice of equity was a small cost to expunge another embarrassing episode from Uber’s past.
Defending Uber against allegations it stole trade secrets from Waymo could have dragged on in public for years. Khosrowshahi didn’t want the legal risk when the startup files for an initial offering next year. So he and West took the recommendations that Uber’s board Tuesday evening asking for their subsistence.
Uber’s board repudiated the bargain. Kalanick, still a board member, wanted to let the suit proceed. He told the other administrators he was ready to defend himself. Kalanick have all along insisted he would be vindicated in court.
Furthermore, Uber’s board had ensure no major surprises from Waymo’s contentions in tribunal; Uber hadn’t even begun its defense, and Uber’s lawyers supposed the case was going well.
Kalanick witnessed on Wednesday, and Waymo’s lawyers failed to get under his scalp. When Waymo’s outside attorney Charlie Verhoeven tried to embarrass Kalanick over went on to say that he wanted self-driving vehicle “cheat codes, ” Kalanick had a ready reason. When Verhoeven presented a video of the Wall Street “Greed is Good” speech that Kalanick had received via text message, Kalanick smiled and said he thought he’d seen the clip and the movie.
Two of the jurors said Friday after the the case was dismissed that they were impressed with Kalanick’s composure on the witness stand.
“He answered all the questions, cool and pacify ,” said Miguel Posados, an optician.
Steve Perazzo, a truck driver, said Kalanick” truly seemed like a good guy ,” and also” a guy who took this idea and was pretty aggressive with it and wanted to be the best in the world .”
After Kalanick’s testimony, discussions continued. There was one loom certainty for Waymo’s parent company: If the example continued, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, known for avoiding the limelight, would be called to testify.
Waymo’s lawyers also wanted Uber to widen any settlement agreement to pledge not to use any Waymo software — not just hardware( the focus of much of the case ). And the Alphabet unit demanded an independent examine to ensure Uber wouldn’t use its engineering. Alphabet, with billions of dollars in gain, cared more about this than the money.
On Thursday night, the day before Waymo’s legal team planned to dig into more of the technical details of the circumstances of the case, both sides came to an agreement. Waymo would get its independent review and a 0.34 percent stake in Uber. The sum amounted to a fraction of Alphabet’s existing bet of about 4 percent. The value of the shares ranges from $153 million to $245 million, depending on how you value Uber, a privately-held company.
After a week of trial, both sides had a reason to settle, said Eric Goldman, a prof at Santa Clara University’s law school.
“Waymo was having difficulty establishing the key elements of the circumstances of the case, ” he said. “On the other hand, Uber was already coming into the trial with lots of baggage, and the revelations at trial weren’t doing Uber any favors.”
The two jurors sounded frustrated the trial ended so fast. They wanted to hear from Anthony Levandowski, the one-time Waymo engineer whom the company accused of committing working with Kalanick to steal thousands of proprietary files.
Based on the evidence presented he heard before the settlement was announced, Posados said he is” leaning toward” believing that Levandowski stole Waymo’s trade secret and that Kalanick knew about it.
What the jury hadn’t been told by the judge was that Levandowski has refused through most of the suit to collaborate, insisting his constitutional right against self-incrimination, and that he was expected to do the same on the witness stand.
In the end, juror Perazzo said he was allayed at not having to choose between the Silicon Valley giants.
” Both corporations are astounding and I was various kinds of torn as the trial went on ,”‘ he said.” I didn’t want to choose either side. I think I’m enjoying the fact that they have settled and I don’t have to pick either one .”
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