Update: David Drummond has now stepped down from Uber’s board, according to an Uber statement given to The Information.
In an interesting note from The Information (paywall), we learn that for around a year, Uber has been shutting out its Alphabet board members from board meetings. Google and now Alphabet through its GV arm own a single digit percentage of Uber through early stage investments. That investment also allowed Google to secure a board seat at Uber. That in turn has made a somewhat uncomfortable relationship as Uber **ventures** more into mapping and autonomous driving and Google’s autonomous driving picks up steam, perhaps even for big-rigs.
Uber has shut out an Uber board member and senior Alphabet executive, David Drummond, from attending board meetings, according to three people briefed about the unusual arrangement. That makes it increasingly likely Mr. Drummond will leave Uber’s board. Uber also is shielding information from board “observer” David Krane, who runs a subsidiary of Alphabet called GV, a venture capital firm that is one of Uber’s top shareholders, says another person familiar with the arrangement.
Some folks may harken back to the heady days of a decade ago when Apple and Google shared board members including Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Arthur Levinson who decided to go with Apple when the companies became frenemies. Levinson subsequently left the Apple board to head up Alphabet’s Calico. Many suspect that Eric Schmidt may have been taking iPhone information back to Google to help with its Android strategy.
Perhaps Uber isn’t willing to take chances and as Author Amir Efrati points out, it could mean that Drummond won’t be a board member for much longer. That said, he’s been there for a year in the current situation so who knows. He could be recused from strategic information and only looking at finances or some other spelled out agreement.
One of the main motivations for creating the Alphabet holding company was to try to eliminate conflicts of interest between internal and external groups. It doesn’t sound like Uber is having any of it.