Google-parent company Alphabet and Uber have a weird relationship.
Things started off well enough: In 2013, the company’s investment arm, Google Ventures (now GV), poured a reported $300 million into the ride hailing service, and David Drummond, currently Alphabet’s SVP of corporate development, joined Uber’s board.
But since then, both companies have ramped up their self-driving car efforts, making them look more like rivals than ever before.
Despite the growing competition, GV CEO Bill Maris said on stage at Bloomberg’s tech conference on Tuesday that the relationship is “very healthy.”
“They’re big customers of each other,” Maris said, elaborating that Uber uses Google Maps for navigation, for example. (Uber is reportedly looking to outsource its cloud business, too, another area where Google could step in).
“Most big companies will bump into each other and they will compete or they will cooperate,” Maris continued. “And I see better outcomes when they cooperated than when they try to crush each other.”
When asked why Alphabet technically had an Uber board seat, not GV, Maris said the firm took an observer seat instead because of “the relationship and what everyone’s working on.”
He added that he and his team will still have meetings with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and SVP of business Emil Michael, and that they also talk to Uber employees regularly because “we have lots of friends who work there.”
After all, in the last year there has been something of a Google-to-Uber exodus that included several high-profile Googlers.
“The relationship as I see it is very healthy,” Maris says.
Meanwhile, GV hasn’t sold any of its Uber stock and doesn’t plan to.
“I think the company has so much potential to grow expand and transform transportation,” he said. “There’s so much potential, I feel like they’re just scratching the surface.”
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