Uber’s self-driving [product /partnership] strategy: build, buy or partner?

There is no question if Uber will roll out self-driving cars. The only question is how: build, buy or partner.

💡 A quick look at Uber’s self-driving [ product /partnership ] strategy.




🏗️ Build


✔️Competitive advantage

✔️Full control

➖ Longer and more expensive than expected

➖ Directly impacts your company’s perception


Uber tried to build their own self-driving tech starting in 2015. Unsurprisingly It turned out to be more difficult and longer than they anticipated.


This is especially true for autonomous cars, but almost any “build” project extends beyond expectations


It was also difficult to sustain the brand damage after a pedestrian was tragically killed by the AV.


TechCrunch has calculated that Uber could have spent close to $1Bn on automated vehicle research.



💰 Buy


✔️ Speed

✔️ Control

➖ Price

➖ Integration


Uber exchanged its self-driving unit + $400 million in cash for 26% stake in Aurora, a startup focused on building the full self-driving stack and focusing on autonomous trucks first.


Still, it’s taking longer for Aurora to deliver on its vision and it’s currently considering an acquisition. In Q2, Uber lost $1.1Bn from its Aurora investments.



🤝 Partner


✔️ Speed

✔️ Asset light

➖ Limited control

➖ Low to zero competitive advantage


Now Uber is partnering on self-driving tech, among others, with Motional, the Aptiv-Hyundai JV. They announced putting its robotaxis on the Uber network later this year as part of a 10-year operating agreement that will eventually roll out to major cities across North America.


But Motional has been testing for a while in Las Vegas with Lyft and Via, Uber’s competitors. And Motional it’s planning a full-scale commercial launch with Lyft by 2023.



📍 It seems that despite its disadvantages, #partnerships are becoming the default mode in which robotaxi will be rolled out at scale.




[Sources: 1 & 2]

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