Uber has been catching on a lot of attention these past months, everything from the dubious regulators and litigious drivers to some pretty well-funded rivals (Lyft). But perhaps the most significant threat to the app-based company, who has revolutionized the taxi industry, might be a little closer, literally, that one might thing. Google, one of its biggest investors.
The search giants venture capital firm, Google Ventures, invested a total of $258 million in Uber in August 2013, making it the largest investment deal ever. But I guess back then, considering Googles impeccable consumer-power, it was easy to imagine Uber teaming up with the search giant, or even acquiring it one day.
Google is now officially preparing to offer its very own “ride” service, most likely in ties with its long-in-development driverless car project. David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, who joined Uber in 2013, informed Uber’s board of the possibility, according to a person close to the Uber board, and Uber executives have seen screenshots of what appears to be a Google ride-sharing app that is currently being used by Google employees. According to Bloomberg Business, this person, who requested not to be named because the talks are private, said the Uber board is now weighing whether to ask Drummond to resign his position as an Uber board member.
Its no secret that one of Googles largest ambitions is to revolutionize transportation with autonomous vehicles. Even Larry Page, the CEO of Google, is said to be insanely fascinated by the vision of making communities operate more efficiently. As of now, Google recently announced that the driverless car technology in development within its Google X research lab, and is between two to five year away from being publicly used.
Sadly, Uber is left without a partner when Google’s enter the ride-sharing market and probably innovating the next big thing in the vehicle industry as in the near future, cars without steering wheels will roam the streets. In order to compete, Uber will have to develop similar technology itself or possibly form an alliance with a company that can. Huge automobile companies such as Audi, Mercedes and Tesla have previously said they are developing driverless cars, thought possibly not as advanced as Google’s.
Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, has publicly discussed the inevitability of autonomous taxis, stating that Uber could offer cheaper rides and a true alternative to vehicle ownership.
The Uber experience is expensive because it’s not just the car but the other dude in the car. When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost [of taking an Uber] gets cheaper than owning a vehicle.
Picture Credit: Uber