SoftBank, a Japanese tech and telecoms consortium, has acquired a 13-15 percent stake in Uber, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal is good news for SoftBank, which has been trying to get a stake in Uber for years, and good news for the ride-sharing company, which should see an immediate influx of much-needed cash.
But for Uber’s existing investors and the ego of founder Travis Kalanick, the deal has some very bad news. The WSJ‘s reporting suggests that SoftBank’s successful offer valued Uber at $48 billion. That’s still a lot of money, but it’s $22 billion less than the company was valued at last year. Guess all the in-fighting has taken a toll.
According to the report, SoftBank has acquired a stake of around 13-15% in Uber, which would indicate that it paid around $6.5 billion to acquire its position. The sellers of Uber shares haven’t been disclosed, but some Uber employees are rumored to be among those selling, along with investors Benchmark and Menlo Ventures.
Strategically, the move makes all kinds of sense for Uber. SoftBank has access to all kinds of technology that could be relevant to Uber’s self-driving car plans via its other investments, and with its help, Uber will be better positioned to expand into Asia. Domestically speaking, SoftBank owns most of Sprint, a wireless carrier that is well positioned to establish the kind of 5G network that experts think will be crucial to deploying self-driving vehicles.
More than anything, however, SoftBank’s presence on the board of Uber should help bring an end to the in-fighting that has plagued the company all year. Benchmark is expected to drop its lawsuit against Uber founder Travis Kalanick, and the two board seats that SoftBank wield should help bring stability to the decision-making process, which in turn should allow new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to focus on losing less money.