Just when we thought Uber couldn’t encounter any more road hazards … here comes Google.
But who could have guessed? Probably Sun Tzu, the 6th century BCE Chinese philosopher and author of the still-read “The Art of War.”
“The most significant threat to the app-based transportation company may be much closer to home: one of its biggest investors, Google,” charges Bloomberg in a recent exclusive.
Is Google now going into “uber drive” and signaling it intends to switch lanes?
“Google Ventures, the search giant’s venture capital arm, invested $ 258 million in Uber in August 2013. It was Google Ventures’ largest investment deal ever, and the company put more money into Uber’s next funding round less than a year later,” notes Bloomberg. “Now there are signs that the companies are more likely to be ferocious competitors than allies. Google is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, most likely in conjunction with its long-in-development driverless car project.”
Is nothing safe from the clutches of Google? Go ahead and Google that. You’d be surprised.
For instance, “Google has made no secret of its ambitions to revolutionize transportation with autonomous vehicles,” according to Bloomberg. “CEO Larry Page is said to be personally fascinated by the challenge of making cities operate more efficiently. The company recently said the driverless car technology in development within its Google X research lab is from two to five years from being ready for widespread use.”
Executives at Uber are deeply concerned, according to Bloomberg reporters.
“Google is a deep-pocketed, technically sophisticated competitor, and Uber’s dependence on the search giant goes far beyond capital,” the story explains. “Uber’s smartphone applications for drivers and riders are based on Google Maps, which gives Google a fire hose of data about transportation patterns within cities. Uber would be crippled if it lost access to the industry-leading mapping application, and alternatives— such as AOL’s MapQuest, Apple Maps, and a host of regional players—are widely seen as inferior.”
While Uber sends out a flood of city-sized Hondas and Subarus to tackle urban transportation, Google may look like the oncoming Range Rover with road rage.
Well, as the old adage goes: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” That’s Sun Tzu, by the way.
We will soon see which one Uber thinks Google might be.