Is Google Planning A Ride-Sharing Service To Rival Uber And Lyft?

Image courtesy of Joshua B. Leners

While everyone is buzzing over a recent report that Google is planning its own ride-sharing service in an attempt to cut a nice slice out of the pie currently enjoyed mostly by Uber and Lyft, the company responded to requests for comment with the kind of non-denial that just makes everyone think something has got to be going on. So what’s the deal?

It’s unclear: Bloomberg reported last night that while Google had previously invested $258 million in Uber in August 2013 through its Google Ventures capital arm, it is now looking to set up its own shop.

Buzz back in 2013 at the time of the investment was that Google pouring money in Uber to plan for some sort of joint effort, or perhaps to one day buy it outright. David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development has been on the Uber board of directors since then.

But Bloomberg said it seemed now that Google was more likely going to be a competitor than an ally, reporting that the search giant was readying itself to offer its own ride-hailing service, perhaps in connection with its driverless car project. The report claimed that Drummond had informed the Uber board about the plan, according to a person close to the board, and that Uber executives have screenshots of what looks like a ride-sharing app currently used by Google employees.

The board was reportedly considering whether to ask Drummond to resign.

At the same time, Uber made no secret of the fact that it’s working with Carnegie Mellon University for a research facility in Pittsburgh to work on its own driverless technology.

Bloomberg reported that Google’s move into the ride-sharing field would severely cripple its business, due to Google’s caverns of gold and hoarded treasure it can use to make it happen, theoretically. And if Uber couldn’t use Google maps in its app anymore, it’d be stuck with one of the other less popular alternatives like MapQuest or Apple Maps. So essentially, this would be pretty bad news for Uber and Lyft.

But when the AFP and others asked Google for a comment on the story, Google replied in a way that neither confirms nor denies, but simply states a fact that is already known by anyone who cares to ask. Basically, yeah, we use ride-sharing cars too!

Uber didn’t comment on the article.

Exclusive: Google Is Developing Its Own Uber Competitor [Bloomberg]

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