Google may do battle with Uber in Web-taxi arena

Search giant, having invested heavily in Internet cab firm, may become rival, according to Bloomberg

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Google may do battle with Uber in Web-taxi arena (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  February 3, 2015

Google is considering setting up an Internet-based taxi service to compete with Uber, a company in which Google has already invested heavily.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Google has already developed an in-house ride-hailing app that is used by its own employees. An insider claims David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, who has served on Uber's board since 2013, told executives the project was underway. They also said the board was now discussing the removal of Drummond.

Google's investment arm, Google Ventures, invested $258m in Uber in 2013 and may have considered acquiring the firm one day. But because Uber runs a sharing service for drivers, who open online accounts and are paid as contractors rather than employees, it has opened the company to criticism from law enforcement, regulators and the public in countries such as China, India and Germany, as well as at home in the US.

If Google were to start its own service to compete with Uber, it could one day draw upon the tech giant's work on driverless cars, which the company has said is two to five years away from being commercially viable.

Bloomberg said that Chris Urmson, who runs Google's automotive project, last month spoke of an Uber-style application for the technology.

"We're thinking a lot about how in the long term, this might become useful in people's lives, and there are a lot of ways we can imagine this going," he said. "One is in the direction of the shared vehicle. The technology would be such that you can call up the vehicle and tell it where to go and then have it take you there."

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