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  • 05.03.17

A reminder of why the Waymo-Uber legal battle is so important 

Inside a California court on Wednesday, lawyers for Google made the case for why the company believes former employee Anthony Levandowski conspired with Uber to steal secret information about Google’s self-driving technology. Google is asking for an injunction to halt Uber’s self-driving efforts. The ongoing case is a huge issue for the ride-hailing company, which has bet the future of the company on its ability to win in the self-driving tech space. The author of The Sharing Economy, Arun Sundararajan, neatly summed up the quandary to me earlier this year:

“No company depends on the rapid arrival [of autonomous vehicles] for the scaling of its business model more than Uber. If autonomous vehicles take 8 years instead of 6, Ford will carry on, GM will carry on, Google will carry on. But for Uber the timing of this being soon rather than later is most central to them being able to say, we’re going to go after half the U.S. auto spending and convert it to an on-demand mobility platform. For them, the fact that autonomous vehicles have to come sooner rather than later—and they have to drive that—is more central to their business than any other company and whatever the outcome of the lawsuit it could slow down their progress on that front. Because even if they prevail the judge may say, stop research while we figure this out. [Meanwhile] Google will continue to generate the $80b it does every year from search advertising.” RR