A fleet of Google's self-driving vehicles still in the development process. Image Source: Electreck

The resignation of Alphabet’s senior executive David Drummond from the Uber’s board of directors speaks of an increased rivalry between two friends. Google‘s parent, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Uber Technologies Inc., clashing over the future means of transportation.

Alphabet Inc. is one of the principal investors of the ride-hailing enterprise and it seems it will continue so.  Through Google Ventures (GV), they invested $250 million in the transportation network. Drummond is the chairperson of the investment arm and, until now, he was the link between the now rival companies.

Drummond said he stepped down from Uber because of the overlap between the two companies. However, he added that GV would not end its investment in Uber.

Google is currently the leader of the driverless vehicles race via Google Self-Driving Car project (SDC); Uber’s efforts in the field are unbalancing the relationship, as the company is testing self-driving taxis for passengers in the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Rumors say Uber kept Drummond away from the exec-board

Officially, Drummond stepped down from Uber because of concerns about “conflicts of interest.” However, Technology news portal The Information reported that Mr. Drummond had been kept out of recent executive meetings and denied valuable information about Uber’s initiatives.

His departure reveals how big of a player Uber is in the Silicon Valley. The matter even remembers what happened between Appel and Google in 2009, just before Android was born. Eric Schmidt, who was Google’s CEO, had to exit from Apple’s board of directors due to “conflicts of interest.”

Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick said in a stamen that Drummond had been “a sage advisor and a great friend.” The CEO expects its company will continue to cooperate with both Drummond and Alphabet.

 Tensions rise driverless competition

Google’s technologies have logged over 1.5 million of accident-free autonomous driving, in both cities and interstate roads mostly in California and Nevada. Their prototypes include modified Lexus SUVs and a new prototype designed by the tech giant.

One of the founding members of Google’s SDC, Anthony Lewandowsky, is now at the helm of the driverless truck startup Uber recently acquired, Ottomotto LLC.

Former Alphabet employees also founded Ottomotto and joined Uber to launch driverless tech before the end of the decade. To make it so, Uber will start a pilot program of driverless taxis in the Pittsburgh area.  

That would be even faster than Alphabet, as they plan to test driverless cars all the way to 2021.

What’s more, there are signs that Alphabet will push right into Uber’s business, traditional ride-sharing vehicles. But driverless. The company is already testing a feature in the traffic app Waze that lets about 65,000 workers in San Francisco city to share rides together to work.

All the while, Uber pays Google to include its transportation service as an option when users search Google Maps for directions.

Source: Wall Street Journal