“The Waymo lawyers are now in a super-position to prove their case,” said Chris Broderick, an attorney focusing on trade secrets issues with Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips LLP.
Meanwhile, Lyft has been benefiting from a wave of consumers who have quit Uber in disgust following missteps during the Trump administration’s immigration ban, a sexual harassment scandal and a leaked video of Uber’s chief executive cursing at a driver. Waymo recently began to recruit Phoenix-area residents to join one of the largest efforts yet to put ordinary people inside self-driving cars.
The deal appears to play off the assets each company brings to the table. Lyft, which is privately valued at $7.5 billion, doesn’t have the resources to invest in self-driving car technology. The company has said it is not going to attempt to do so. But Lyft has a network of consumers who use the company’s app. Waymo, which is not consumer-facing, could benefit from that network as it races to bring the technology to the public.
The competition to develop autonomous vehicles is fierce, attracting the attention of traditional automakers as well as technology companies such as Apple. In pointing out Tesla's potential vulnerabilities, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas noted that, “There have been numerous developments that suggest to us the continued preparation of an assault by large tech firms on the market for shared, autonomous, electric mobility.”