Before it ever releases its first driverless car, Google is already getting into the automobile business as it plans its own ride sharing service. The company plans to compete head to head in the driverless taxi field according to a report in Bloomberg.
The publication mused that the two companies may be “going to war” over driverless taxis.
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It is odd that Google would choose to compete with Uber considering that it is a major investor in the newer company. Google Ventures, the search giant’s venture capital arm, pumped $258 million into the ride sharing service in 2013. Perhaps this move is a vote of no confidence in Uber considering all of the bad press that the company has received recently over rape allegations against its drivers as well as all of the cities and countries in the world which have banned it from operating.
Chris Urmson, the Google executive in charge of the company’s driverless car project, told Bloomberg, “We’re thinking a lot about how in the long-term, this might become useful in people’s lives, and there are a lot of ways we can imagine this going. One is in the direction of the shared vehicle. The technology would be such that you can call up the vehicle and tell it where to go and then have it take you there.”
But Uber may have been the one to fire the first shot in this “war” as the company had made plans to develop its own driverless car technology in direct competition with Google.
It is never wise to bite the hand that feeds you, especially when it comes to the world of business and finance. Uber is far from becoming a publicly traded company, however. Google could still choose to drop out by selling its share in Uber before an IPO or selling its shares after one. It all depends on what the terms of its investment in Uber may be.
But talk about big pockets. Google could actually afford to see Uber fail and write off its $258 million investment.