The Google-Uber Rivalry Is Seriously Heating Up

4 minute read

Ride-hailing company Uber’s board of directors isn’t a happy family, it turns out.

According to a report from tech news site The Information that cites anonymous sources, Uber has barred board member David Drummond from attending board meetings. Drummond, who joined Uber’s board in 2013, is senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer for Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

On Monday, Uber confirmed to the Wall Street Journal and later to Fortune that he stepped down from the board several weeks ago because of increasing conflicts of interest.

“I recently stepped down from Uber’s board given the overlap between the two companies. Uber is a phenomenal company and it’s been a privilege working with the team over the last two plus years,” said Drummond in a statement. “GV remains an enthusiastic investor and Google will continue to partner with Uber.”

Uber is reportedly also limiting the information it shares with board “observer” David Krane, who runs GV, Alphabet’s venture capital arm. Krane recently took over as leader of GV from founder Bill Maris, but Uber was Krane’s investment from the start. He joined the board in August of 2013 as well.

The move isn’t surprising at all—if anything, it’s surprising it didn’t happen sooner. Though Uber and Alphabet seem like a match made it heaven (Uber employs a large number of former Googlers and uses the tech giant’s mapping service), a collision between the two company’s ambitious plans seem increasing inevitable, as Fortune‘s Dan Primack predicted two years ago. Google has been rumored to be interested in developing its own ride-hailing service, and began experimenting last year with a carpooling feature through Waze, the navigation service it acquired in 2013.

The two are also fiercely competing in the self-driving car race. Google has been working on autonomous cars for much longer—since 2009—but Uber has been aggressively working to catch up. What’s more, Uber now employs one of the original co-founders of Google’s self-driving car project, Anthony Levandowski. Levandowski, along with other former Googlers, founded a self-driving truck company, Otto, which Uber recently acquired to boost its efforts in that area. Levandowski left Google at the beginning of the year, largely because he was itching to get a self-driving car on the market fast—presumably, faster than Google plans to.

Awkward scenarios like Uber’s are rare, but it’s not the first time it’s happened in Silicon Valley. In 2009, then Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple’s board, where he had served since 2006. His decision came shortly after Google announced it was working on its own computer operating system, Chrome OS, which would compete with Apple’s. He had already been recusing himself from certain discussions that conflicted with his role at Google’s chief, such as those about the iPhone, which competes with his company’s mobile operating system, Android.

Uber is also facing a similarly touchy situation related to its recent merger of its Chinese business with local rival Didi Chuxing. As part of the deal, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick joined Didi Chuxing’s board, while Didi CEO Cheng Wei is joining Uber’s. This could make things tense considering a Didi partnership with ride-hailing company Lyft, along with Ola in India, and Grab in Southeast Asia, which still compete with Uber in their respective local markets.

It’s unclear whether Drummond or Krane will eventually depart from the board, though it wouldn’t be surprising. According to The Information, the limiting of their participation has been going on for “the better part of a year.”

Fortune has contacted Uber and GV and will update this story if we hear back.

The story has been updated to show that Drummond has officially resigned from Uber’s board.

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