Both companies are working on self-driving cars, which is a conflict of interest for Mr. Drummond
Alphabet Inc.’s executive, David Drummond, who was a director on the Uber board, has stepped down as the two companies increasingly clash over the future of the autonomous vehicle business. Recently, Uber and Alphabet have escalated their efforts to introduce autonomous cars on the roads, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Uber confirmed that Mr. Drummond resigned from his post several weeks ago. CEO Travis Kalanick said in a statement: “Mr. Drummond had been a sage advisor and a great personal friend” and he expects that both Alphabet Inc. and David Drummond will continue their partnership with the ride-hailing company.
Mr. Drummond has been part of Uber’s board since 2013. He joined Google in 2002 and is currently the chairman of its investment arm, Google Ventures (GV), which invested $250 million in the ride-hailing company three years ago.
Mr. Drummond said that he stepped down due to “the overlap between the two companies.” However, GV will remain a keen investor and Google will continue its partnership with Uber.
Following Mr. Drummond’s exit, Uber is now left with seven board members. The company has no plans to fill in the space left by the departure of Mr. Drummond. Other members on the board include investor Bill Gurley, Arianna Huffington and Managing Director of Saudi Sovereign fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan.
The technology website, The Information, further reported that Mr. Drummond has been barred from attending meetings and has not been provided with all the information. The ride-hailing company didn’t share any strategic secrets with the director, as he was part of Google, which was the main driving force behind Mr. Drummond’s departure.
Both the companies are now heading into a similar direction by working on self-driving cars. Uber and Google have been making efforts to bring commercial self-driving cars on the streets. While Uber is all set to launch its self-driving taxis in Pittsburg, it was also reported that Google might soon test its self-driving cars as a ride-hailing service.
Recently, Uber acquired a self-driving truck startup called Otto for $680 million, which was founded by ex-Google executives. Otto’s 90-member team will now develop and improve autonomous technology for the ride-hailing company. The CEO of Otto, Anthony Levandowski will now head Uber’s self-driving department. He is also the founding member of Google’s self-driving car project.
Moreover, it was recently reported that Uber might end its dependency on Google Maps as it has invested $500 million to develop its own mapping system. For now, Uber drivers have to rely on Google Maps to get to their destinations. However, the ride-hailing company says that the maps have limited accuracy in some countries, which makes it difficult for its drivers to pick up customers on time.
Both the companies will continue to work together as Google Maps will still have an option to hail an Uber whenever users search for directions. Uber pays Google to include its ride-hailing option in its maps so users can hail a ride from within the Google Maps app. They also can compare fares with other ride hailing companies, such as Lyft.