Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Google Is Developing an Uber Competitor

Today must be a day of battles between entities, neither of which are to my liking. Brad Stone, Bloomberg:

Google is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, most likely in conjunction with its long-in-development driverless car project. Drummond has informed Uber’s board of this 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. 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.

Drummond, here, is David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development who also happens to sit on Uber’s board. Google has also invested in Uber through their Ventures arm.

I don’t like Uber very much. While the idea of calling taxis on a smartphone and linking them to your credit card for automatic payments is appealing, I find the company itself to be appalling — especially the practice of surge pricing — and I think the focus on “black cars” is exclusionary. However, they are still a startup, and it looks like they’re about to be screwed over by one of the largest companies in the world.

Also, recall that then-CEO of Google Eric Schmidt was on Apple’s board when they were working on the iPhone. It’s like they create their own conflicts of interest.

Update: According to the WSJ, the app that the Uber board saw was an internal ride-sharing app for Google employees.