Now roughly equal in value, Uber and Daimler trade gentle blows

Wed Jun 8, 2016 5:43pm EDT
 
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By Eric Auchard

BERLIN (Reuters) - A promised showdown between the chief executives of German luxury car maker Daimler (DAIGn.DE: Quote) and ride-sharing firm Uber, Silicon Valley's most valuable private company, turned into more of a wary courtship when the two met publicly on Wednesday.

Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche and Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick were interviewed together on stage at Axel Springer NOAH, a two-day conference in Berlin of venture capitalists and technology companies.

Both ruled out the prospect of one taking over the other and denied a German magazine report in March that Uber was considering ordering up to 100,000 cars from the automaker. They sought common ground in many of their comments, while taking good-natured jabs at one another as inevitable competitors.

"Cars are not going away soon and companies like Uber are not going to be making them," Uber's Kalanick said.

Zetsche said he had met Kalanick several times and described him as a "frenemy", which he defined as a combination of friend and enemy, before joking "We call that marriage in German."

Turning more serious, the Daimler executive said: "We are competitors, of course. There might be many areas where we are competitors in the future," but added they were also friends.

The rise of car-sharing is widely seen as a long-term threat to individual car ownership by many potential drivers, reducing long-term demand for new cars from automakers. Daimler has responded by investing in a variety of new car-sharing and connected car businesses that potentially compete with Uber.

With this month's announcement of a $3.5 billion investment in Uber by a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund and a partnership deal with automaker Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote) which also included an investment stake for an undisclosed amount, Uber's private market valuation has soared.   Continued...

 
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick speaks to students during an interaction at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus in Mumbai, India, January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui