Former Uber CEO was worried about Google’s autonomous car

Former Uber CEO was worried about Google’s autonomous car


A series of emails revealed that Travis Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber, had been concerned for some time with Google’s efforts to develop an autonomous car system. The executive’s fear was to stay behind in the race that will determine who will be able to make a car that drives independently first, mainly to compose a fleet for ride sharing and ride hailing services.

To try to make up some of the lost time, Kalanick tried to contact Google to close a partnership through corporate development vice president David Drummond, who has been a part of Uber in the past. The former CEO of Uber even complained that Larry Page, the CEO of Alphabet (parent company of Google and Waymo), was avoiding talking to him.

The e-mails emerged as further evidence of the judicial mess that is running between Uber and Waymo, in an accusation by Google’s subsidiary that the ride hailing platform would have stolen information regarding its autonomous steering project.

Kalanick’s concern in 2015 began after news of Google’s efforts to develop a standalone car began to emerge. At that time, both the search giant and Uber had a much more friendly relationship, with a great possibility of even partnership.

It was then that the executive made some complaints about the allegations of the then new Google contract. Drummond, meanwhile, tried to arrange a meeting with Kalanick but failed. That’s when things began to fall apart.

In one of the emails, Kalanick said he had received information that Google would be starting to launch a stand-alone car service within three months. “We’re getting more than I would like about it. A meeting with Larry [Page] could calm things down, if that’s not true, but he’s been avoiding any sort of meeting with me since last fall, “explains the former CEO.

“Without any kind of dialogue, we will come to the conclusion that Google wants to become a competitor in the short term and has been planning this for some time. I hope I’m wrong, I just need a meeting with Larry urgently to clarify and come to an understanding of how we will actually close a partnership here. ”

Now, Uber is legally seeking a way to get Larry Page and Drummond to clarify this particular move by Google – something that Waymo believes to be an attempt to link the episode to the relationship between Google executives with Anthony Levandowski, who is key to the theft scandal.

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I handle much of news coverage for tech stocks, and occasionally cover companies in different sectors. In the past, I've written for other financial sites and published independent investment research, primarily on tech companies. I have a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University. I'm based out of San Diego, but grew up in Southern New Jersey. I play basketball and tennis in my spare time, am a long-time (and long-suffering) fan of Philadelphia's sports teams, and alternate daily between using an iPad Air, a Galaxy Note 3, and one or two Windows PCs.