Google is turning its self-driving-cars unit into a standalone business under the parent company Alphabet next year, Bloomberg’s John Lippert and Jack Clark reported Wednesday.
Google’s autonomous cars will offer “rides for hire,” according to Bloomberg. That’s still pretty vague, but it doesn’t sound much different from the service Uber provides—especially since one of Uber’s goals, CEO Travis Kalanick has said, is to get into the driverless-car business.
“Look, Google is doing the driverless thing, Tesla is doing the driverless thing, Apple is doing the driverless thing,” Kalanick said in an interview with Late Show host Stephen Colbert in September.
Reports have surfaced since February that Google has been working on an Uber rival, a service that will most likely feature its autonomous vehicles.
At the same time, there has been a bit of an exodus from Google to Uber in recent months.
Manik Gupta, who announced his move on LinkedIn after working on Google Maps for seven years (most recently as the director of product management), just joined Uber as the director of its maps product.
Brian McClendon, who ran Google Maps for many years, joined Uber in July. Tom Fallows, a former founder of Google Express, is now an Uber exec. And Rachel Whetstone, Google’s communications and policy senior vice president, started working with the same title at Uber in May.
The exodus from Google to Uber has been so noticeable that Fallows recently said on stage at a recent StrictlyVC event that one out of three people he worked with at the $50 billion startup was a former Google colleague.
A quick LinkedIn search reveals more than 300 Xooglers, or former Google employees, working at Uber.
Google’s venture division, Google Ventures, invested roughly $250 million in Uber in 2013, but the two companies’ expanding ambitions mean they are increasingly eyeing each other’s turf. Uber used to use Google Maps data to power its apps, but now it is working on its own mapping product (hence Gupta’s role).