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Buying Uber might give Google a ride into the future

Zach Miners | Feb. 5, 2015
The companies look set to become rivals, with Google reportedly building a ride-hailing app.

Google responded only in the form of a cryptic tweet that said, "We think you'll find Uber and Lyft work quite well. We use them all the time."

If Google doesn't have its own ride hailing app in the works, Uber's own would be handy to have.

But there are also good reasons for Google not to buy Uber. For one, Uber faces opposition on multiple fronts, from regulators, safety advocates and the taxi industry. Those are issues Google might not want to take on, though it would have more money and lobbying power to bring to the fight.

And let's not forget how much Google would be biting off if it tried to buy the company. Even at its $40 billion valuation, with no premium, Uber would be a big acquisition for any company.

But Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp, which closed at $22 billion, shows how much some companies are willing to pay to expand their business and customer base.

Uber may well fit into Google's big picture, which is to be the entry point through which people go about their day, whether it's with search, media, communications or entertainment. The company showed it wasn't afraid of tackling new areas when it entered the connected home last year by buying Nest for more than $3 billion.

"Getting around is another one of those common things that people do that is stuck in analog technology, for the most part," said Brian Blau, an industry analyst at Gartner who studies consumer technology.

Uber, he said, represents to Google another path away out of the analog world and into the digital realm where it thrives.

 

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