Uber's new top lawyer, Tony West negotiated Waymo down from a $500 million payment to $250 million

Wikipedia/DoJUber top lawyer Tony West
  • Waymo’s settlement demands went from $US1 billion last year, to $US500 million this week to $US250 million in stock, with West leading the negotiations.
  • Even though Uber paid Waymo hundreds of millions in stock, Uber’s top executives and board views this settlement as a big win internally, a source says.
  • Waymo views it as a win internally, too, because the deal included assurances that Uber was not and will not use the disputed technology.

The top brass inside Uber are thrilled with the performance of Uber’s new top lawyer Tony West. He was the key person who negotiated a deal with Waymo that ended an ugly lawsuit.

On Friday, a few days after the case had gone to court, both sides agreed on a settlement. Waymo asked for $US1 billion in settlement talks last year. Uber’s executives and boards rejected that.

Once the trial began, earlier this week, Waymo offered a settlement price of $US500 million. Uber’s board rejected that deal, too, two people familiar with the matter told Business Insider, with former CEO Travis Kalanick strongly objecting to such a high settlement. Kalanick felt that as the trial continued, it would become clear that Waymo had no smoking gun and would be pushed back on their heels.

And so they were. West was given marching orders to work with Waymo’s general counsel and craft a counter offer the board would swallow: Less of a payment to Waymo. The stock offer was reduced to $US250 million at a high valuation of $US72 billion. But Waymo got an insurance that its confidential information is not being incorporated into Uber technology, Uber announced on Friday.

The settlement payment was less of a focus for Waymo than the assurance that Uber isn’t using, and won’t in the future use, the disputed technology, said another person familiar with the matter.

Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and the board view this as a win internally, one person told us. It clears up the lawsuit prior to a planned IPO for next year and it turns Waymo into investors and, perhaps, an ally, rather than an enemy.

Waymo had sued Uber a year ago claiming Uber had stolen its trade secrets. The lawsuit caused a lot of damage and drama for Uber and cleaning it up was one of the top three priorities given to new Khosrowshahi when he took the job, someone familiar tells us.

Khosrowshahi’s other top priorities included securing a massive investment from Softbank deal (which closed last month) and getting the company ready for an IPO. That IPO has been promised for 2019.

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