Uber and Google seem to be in a car race on the road to mutual disruption. Google Ventures was an early investor in Uber, the ride sharing app, to the tune of $258 million with David Drummond of Google sitting on Uber’s board. However there is talk that Google might have made Uber its pet project to further its own brainchild of the self-driving car.
Bloomberg reports that Google is developing its own ride sharing business as a way to monetize its self-driving car, which the company says may hit the roads in a few years. A self-driving car might be too expensive for the private consumer, and would lend itself well to ride sharing. In addition, without having to pay a driver, it is likely to be more profitable.
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The Wall Street Journal says it is the other way around; Google isn’t trying to steal Uber’s fire, but vice versa. Rumors that Drummond has been requested to leave Uber’s board have been “blown out of proportion” according to WSJ, although if he sees eventually a conflict of interest between the two companies, it is likely he will leave. Still, the WSJ acknowledges the two companies have been working “at arms length” and that Uber has formed a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to develop a driverless car. In addition, Uber is forming its own mapping service to allow it to throw off the yoke of Google Maps.
When it comes to the race between Google and Uber, gentlemen (or rather, driverless cars) start your engines.