this March 15, 2012 file photo, Ben Gleitzman uses a traffic
and navigation app called Waze as he drives to work in Menlo
Park, Calif. Google is set to expand a San Francisco
carpooling program that could morph into a showdown with its
one-time ally, the popular ride-hailing service Uber. The
program allows anyone using the Waze app to offer a ride to
a limited pool of people trying to get to work or home.
SAN FRANCISCO -
Google is preparing to expand a San Francisco carpooling program
in a move that could that could set up a showdown with its
one-time ally, the popular ride-hailing service Uber.
The plans will
build upon a test service that Google's navigation app Waze
launched three months ago in the San Francisco Bay Area.
allows anyone using the Waze app to offer a ride to a limited pool
of people trying to get to work or home.
Now, only people
working at six companies, including Google, Wal-Mart Stores and
Adobe Systems, can request rides. The tests have worked well
enough to encourage Waze to move into the next phase and allow
anyone in the Bay Area with its app to request a ride by the end
of this year, spokeswoman Julie Mossler said.
people to hitch rides could undercut Uber, which allows people to
request drivers who provide a taxi service using their own cars.
Unlike Uber, Waze
isn't trying to make money for itself or the drivers offering to
share a ride.
sets a variable fee of up to 54 cents per mile to reimburse the
drivers for gasoline and maintenance on their vehicles. The riders
pay that fee.
Waze also limits
trips to a rider's work or home, with a maximum of two trips per
day. Although riders can request a ride at any time, Waze is
focusing the service on providing trips during peak commute times
in the mornings and evenings. Only one rider is allowed per
In contrast, Uber
touts its around-the-clock service as a way for its drivers to
make a decent living or supplement their incomes. Uber also hopes
to eventually turn a profit itself to justify its financial
backers' belief that the privately held company is worth more than
Google, now a
subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., was among Uber's early investors. It
invested $258 million in Uber in 2013.
But the two
companies now appear headed down a road more likely to make them
foes than friends. Things already have become tense enough to
prompt David Drummond, Alphabet's senior vice president of
corporate development, to resign from Uber's board because of
potential conflicts with Google's ambitions in transportation.
Uber CEO Travis
Kalanick confirmed Drummond's departure from the board Monday in a
statement that described him as a sage adviser and great personal
friend. Kalanick also said he looked forward to "continued
cooperation and partnership" with Alphabet.
Uber declined to
comment Tuesday on the planned expansion of Waze's carpooling
service in one of its biggest markets.
the Waze carpooling service, Google has been building self-driving
cars for the past seven years. Uber is now designing its own
robot-powered vehicles and is using some of the autonomous cars to
provide rides in Pittsburgh.
previously gone to battle with its former allies. In the most
prominent instance, then-CEO Eric Schmidt served on Apple's board
for three years, but stepped down in 2009 as Google's Android
operating system for smartphones began undercut sales of Apple's
iPhone. Before he died in 2011, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told his
biographer that he believed Google had stolen ideas conceived for
the iPhone's software to create Android.