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Google-powered Waze carpools to compete with Uber

With the increasing competition, Google's David Drummond has stepped down from Uber's board

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
August 31, 2016 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4705

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Contrary to appearances, ridesharing doesn’t have to look like Uber or Lyft. A wide variety of lesser known companies have entered the space to offer carpooling services so that individuals can share rides to and from their places of work.

One of the bigger, newer players in the space is Waze, the Google-owned mobile navigation app that launched its own carpooling service in May. The service launched as part of a pilot program in the Bay Area in partnership with specific companies, including UCSF, Adobe and Walmart Global eCommerce.

Earlier this month, Julie Mossler (Head of Brand & Global Marketing at Waze) told me over email that the closed pilot was "thriving” but the company hadn’t yet committed to any plans for expansion. She also clarified today that the Waze app has been accepting all users as drivers for the past month, but the company hasn't committed to a date to accept new riders.

According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, however, Google plans to open the program to all Waze users in the San Francisco Bay Area as soon as this fall.



While it’s clear that any new entrant into the ridesharing space would compete with the likes of Uber and Lyft, it should be noted that Waze’s carpool service is fairly different in that it focuses simply on commutes to and from work. Additionally, the program isn’t designed to make money for drivers, though riders are expected to split the cost of fuel. The most they’re paying is 54 cents a mile, and Google/Waze doesn’t take a cut at all.

Still, Uber is a multibillion dollar behemoth that has invested tons of time, money, and resources into making its name largely synonymous with ridesharing, so it’s clear that having Google muscle its way into the space is significant.

And it’s not just outsiders who think so.

Coinciding with the news of Waze’s impending expansion, Uber has confirmed that David Drummond (Google's Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer) has stepped down from Uber’s board of directors:

"I recently stepped down from Uber's board given the overlap between the two companies,” said Drummond in a prepared statement. “Uber is a phenomenal company and it's been a privilege working with the team over the last two plus years. GV remains an enthusiastic investor and Google will continue to partner with Uber. I want to wish Travis all the best for the future."

Drummond first joined the board back in 2013, when Google Ventures (today known as GV) made a $258 million investment in Uber. But now it’s clear that, between carpooling and self-driving cars and maps, the companies are going to be competitors, not partners. Interestingly, Lyft was one of the launch partners for Waze's Transport SDK early this year, further entangling the ridesharing companies with Google.

With Drummond stepping down, here’s where Uber’s current board stands:

Board Members

  • Garrett Camp, co-founder and chairman of the board at Uber
  • Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber
  • Ryan Graves, SVP Global Operations at Uber
  • Bill Gurley, General Partner at Benchmark
  • David Plouffe, former Obama advisor
  • David Bonderman, founding partner of TPG Capital
  • Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post (joined in April)

Board Observers

  • Matt Cohler, General Partner at Benchmark
  • Shervin Pishevar, entrepreneur and angel investor

Ed. note: Our 6th Annual Vator Splash LA conference is coming up on October 13 at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. Speakers include Mark Cuban (one of the hosts of Shark Tank and owner of the Dallas Mavericks); Brian Lee (Founder & CEO, Honest Company); Leura Fine (Founder & CEO, Laurel & Wolf ); Nick Green (Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Thrive Market); Tri Tran (CEO & Co-founder, Munchery); Adam Goldenberg (Founder & CEO, JustFab); Andre Haddad (CEO, Turo); Mike Jones (Founder, Science) and many more. Join us! REGISTER HERE.


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