Google to Rival Uber
Uber is facing increasing competition in the app-based taxi service market, though the latest threat comes from much closer to home. Google – one of Uber’s biggest investors – is preparing its own taxi service, most likely in conjunction with its driverless car project.
Google Ventures invested $258 million in Uber in August 2013 and the search giant’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, David Drummond, joined Uber’s board of directors in 2013, on which he continues to serve.
According to Bloomberg, Drummond had informed Uber’s board of the possibility of Google’s rival service and executives have seen screenshots of what appears to be the company’s in-development ride sharing app. An insider said that the Uber board is considering whether to ask Drummond to resign his position as a board member.
Though strange in relation to its links to Uber, it’s no real surprise that Google is moving into the taxi market given its ambitions to revolutionize transportation. Chief executive officer Larry Page is said to be fascinated by the prospect of making cities operate more efficiently and the company recently confirmed development of its driverless car technology.
“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,” said Chris Urmson, the executive in charge of the technology, said at the Detroit auto show last month.
Uber, founded as ‘UberCab’ by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009, is now valued at over $40 billion. The service was banned in Spain and two cities in India in 2014 over concerns over passenger safety, whilst the company continues to be involved in disputes with governmental bodies in the U.S. and Australia.