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Softbank acquires 15% stake in Uber, early investors make billions

Softbank and its co-investors acquired an 18% stake in Uber late last week in a move that will give billions in cash to some of the company’s earliest investors and employees. The deal’s success was first reported by the Wall Street Journal(content behind paywall).

Softbank is slated to now own 15% stakes in Uber, and its co-investors will get 3%.

SoftBank and other parties will also give $1.25 billion to the cab aggregator in new investment as part of the transaction. The investment is expected to be closed in January.

“We have tremendous confidence in Uber’s leadership and employees and are excited to support Uber as it continues to reinvent how people and goods are transported around the world,” SoftBank’s Rajeev Misra told the media.

A report by the Associated Press mentioned that Uber’s early investors didn’t get the price they wanted. But don’t worry, the rich people who invested in Uber early got even richer.

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Uber’s earliest employees who sold their shares are now millionaires, and venture firms could see billions of dollars added to their coffers.

Even though they sold those shares at roughly 30% lower than what they were worth in 2016, those who invested early made nearly 100 times their initial stake, going from around 35 cents per share to just under $33, said one investor who talked to AP on the condition of anonymity.

Uber was valued at around $68.5 billion in 2016, but it dropped down to $48 billion in the SoftBank deal announced last week. There are multiple reasons for this large slump in value. The ride-hailing company was plagued by a string of scandals, lawsuits, bans and fights throughout 2017. There was also competition from companies like Ola in India and Lyft and Grab in the US. The failure to gain a foothold in China must not have helped either.

Less infighting, more stability

“Uber’s board of directors, which had devolved into a power struggle between Uber’s former CEO, Travis Kalanick, and its largest investor, Benchmark, will now likely be calmer,” a report on ReCode says. Uber is set to enact governance reforms that disempower the two warring factions and increase the size of the board to 17 people, two of whom will come from SoftBank.

“We look forward to working with the purchasers to close the overall transaction, which we expect to support our technology investments, fuel our growth, and strengthen our corporate governance,” an Uber spokesperson told the media.

Regulatory issue in India?

Following the deal’s announcement, The Economic Times reported that the investment may violate India’s competitive practices under the Competition Act, 2002, along with price manipulations, given that SoftBank also holds a significant stake, estimated at 30%, in Uber’s domestic rival Ola.

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The same ET report quoted a senior executive of domestic taxi operator Meru Cabs who alleged that SoftBank’s investment in Uber was a “clear indication that this was a case of monopolies being funded.”

Written By

Writes about consumer technology, social media, digital services and tech policy. Is a gadget freak, gamer and Star Wars nerd.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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