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Alphabet Pilots Car Pooling Service through its Waze App

Google’s parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL has launched a pilot project that enables carpooling in San Francisco Bay Area.

The step indicates that Google is trying to push in to the increasingly popular ride-sharing business on the one hand and come up with ways to ease the increasing pressure of Bay Area traffic on the other.  This will also help the company to collect a lot of commute data that might come in handy for its self-driving car project.

Available through Google-owned maps app Waze, the service is presently under beta testing with a handful of Bay Area companies including Adobe and Google itself.

The service automatically matches drivers and riders based on their routes and departure times. An automatic transfer system sends gas money from passenger to driver.

The service is similar to the ones offered by uberPOOL or Lyft Carpool, the only significant difference, as of now, being that drivers don’t receive any money apart from the gas contribution. In a similar project piloted in Israel, Waze charged 15% of the amount drivers received from riders.

Google’s decision to avoid taking cuts from California transactions for now might be a strategy to get a quick grip on the ride-sharing business, collect related data and wrestle market share from Uber, Lyft and so forth.

Google and Uber have worked closely so far. Google invested $250 million in Uber in 2013 and planned to include Uber rides in the Google Maps app. Alphabet’s senior vice president for corporate development, David Drummond, is a board member at Uber.

However, Uber’s decision to develop its own mapping and driverless car technology is probably one of the reasons behind Google’s decision to test its own car pooling service.

At present, Google has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Stocks worth considering in the broader technology space include Radcom Ltd. RDCM, NetEase, Inc. NTES and PetMed Express, Inc. PETS, each carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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