An interesting report is emerging from the Wall Street journal today that firstly, notes Uber's latest investment round has see them pull in enough investors to generate a valuation of over $50 bIllion and secondly, notes that Microsoft is one of those who has invested in the ridesharing company. While on the face of it, this is not necessarily anything mega interesting, there are more subtle undertones which could be read between the lines. Firstly, the disclaimer, Microsoft do invest quite heavily in a number of companies and quite often as a minor investor (as seems to be the case with Uber) and therefore, any investment they do make could be simply a suave business move on their part. However, more recently, even their minor investments have attracted attention due to what seems to be the company looking to position themselves with companies who are directly looking to compete with Google. You just have to look back at when Cyanogen were collecting their investments a few months back and all the talk that Microsoft was thinking of investing, as a means to help with the fight against a 'Google-free android'. Of course, on that occasion, Microsoft in the end chose not to invest, although it was never really clear as to why.
Well, in terms of the latest Uber investment reports, this could be seen as another prime example of where Microsoft are looking to position themselves in direct competition with Google. For background, Google has themselves invested in Uber (albeit through their Google Ventures arm) quite a long time ago (in tech terms). However, since then, the two companies have not been seeing eye to eye and for better want of a better phrase, have fallen out of favor with each other. As such, at the very superficial level, Microsoft backing Uber is somewhat of a choosing of the sides, so to speak.
However, more importantly, Uber has made it quite clear that they intend to proceed with their own self-driving development program. Which, is of course, in direct competition with Google's own self-driving car ambitions. Therefore, at a much more fundamental business level, Microsoft backing Uber could also be seen as Microsoft looking to join forces with a company who is planning on taking on Google in this new age tech industry. Not to mention, Microsoft will be gaining a foothold in all that data stockpile that Uber is accumulating from riders and their rides. In fact, the more you look at it, the more it does seem that Uber and Microsoft are cosying up together. This is not the first time the two have worked together on a project and only recently, Uber was the company who acquired Bing Maps from Microsoft. Which of course, is another rival to another Google service, Maps.