It's common when businesses settle a big lawsuit to initially be surprised at a deal and then, shortly thereafter, to be surprised it didn't happened sooner. Such is the case with Uber-Waymo, who settled their case on Friday.
After all, both companies really got what they most wanted.
What Waymo got:
- a pound of flesh (aka 0.34% of Uber's stock).
- a system in place to prevent its intellectual property from finding its way into Uber products.
What Uber got:
- the chance to bring its dirty laundry away from public view.
- the potential to get back to business without further uncertainty hanging over the team that it is trying to build the company's driverless future.
So why didn't it happen sooner: Lawsuits may be about business, but they are also about people. Reaching a deal necessarily requires letting go of emotions and ego. (And there was plenty of both in this case.)
- Sometimes it takes a good chunk of the litigation process for the people involved to "feel heard." In this case, Waymo did get the opportunity to air its grievances. Uber, meanwhile, might or might not have been able to avoid a big verdict, but there was no scenario that was likely to make the company look good.
The Dara factor: The change in Uber leadership made the deal possible.
- Travis Kalanick is still defiant in the face of Waymo's charges. Bloomberg reports that, as a board member, Kalanick still opposed the deal that was struck. And, Reuters reports he issued a statement saying Uber would have won at trial.
- But he's not CEO and Dara Khosrowshahi is. And more than anything, Khosrowshahi has been trying to turn the page.