Google parent company Alphabet was an early investor in the ride-sharing app phenomenon Uber through its venture capital arm—known as GV—but it looks like this relationship may be thinning, slightly. According to people close to the situation, Uber’s effort to incorporate self-driving cars puts it in direct competition with Alphabet’s more well known partnership: Google. As such, of course, Alphabet’s senior executive David Drummond has recently withdrawn from the board of Uber Technologies.
Obviously, the high-ranking Google executive would find himself in a deep conflict of interest if he did not choose to leave one of the two companies. With that, Alphabet said, on Monday, that the GV senior vice president for corporate development as a strategic measure that would allow for GV to continues as an investor in Uber.
Drummond, himself, said, “I recently stepped down from Uber’s board given the overlap between the two companies. GV remains an enthusiastic investor and Google will continue to partner with Uber,” also wishing Uber CEO Travis Kalanick the best of luck in the future.
But what, exactly could that future hold for these partners turned competitors?
Apparently Drummond feels like there is room for both in the emerging industry. He admits, “Uber is a phenomenal company and it’s been a privilege workign with the team over the last two-plus years. GV remains an enthusiastic investor and Google will continue to partner with Uber.”
Perhaps, then, it would seem that they may not be full competitors after all.
Now, Uber has already redirected much of its existing efforts on developing its own fleet of self-driving cars. Of course, this is also a big project at Google. And as Google looks to expand into this field, Uber has focused on hiring top-tier robotic experts from the likes of Carnegie Mellon University to head up its new technology center, in Pittsburgh. But Uber has also already found partnerships with several major US automakers, like Volvo.
Uber has also recently said that it the company has plans to implement self-driving cars in its system by the end of this month. Yes, Uber says they could have autonomous vehicles picking up passengers within the next couple of days.
Obviously, Google is working on its own self-driving vehicles project, but their timeline does not appear, for now at least, to be as immediate as Uber’s.