It’s a matter of public record that Google was one of the sources of venture capital, giving $250 million when Uber was a start-up, and later making more capital available. That’s why Google is represented on Uber’s board by its chief legal officer David Drummond. But this investment and the position on the board are now under threat. It seems Google has begun to design a taxi-summoning app that would directly compete with Uber’s service. Except, Google’s app would summon one of its self-driving vehicles. But that’s still a conflict of interest, right?
By coincidence, Uber has announced that it’s building a research lab in Pittsburgh. Yes, it’s going to design and build autonomous vehicles. How do we know? Because Uber has just hired the majority of the robotics research staff from Carnegie Mellon University. So both Google and Uber are signaling their intention to compete directly against each other. Some might say this is brave because Google is actually betting against its own investment. Others might say both corporations have such massive amounts of money, it doesn’t matter if they both lose on these deals.