SAN FRANCISCO — Uber's autonomous vehicle unit has raised $1 billion from a consortium of investors including SoftBank Group, giving the company a much-needed funding boost for its pricey self-driving ambitions on the eve of its public stock offering. Uber Technologies said on Thursday that the investment valued its Advanced Technologies Group, which works to develop autonomous driving technology, at $7.25 billion. SoftBank will invest $333 million from its $100 billion Vision Fund, while Toyota and automotive supplier Denso Corp will combined invest $667 million. Reuters had reported in March talks of the investment in ATG, which has locations in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The funding allows Uber to transfer some of the substantial cost of developing self-driving cars onto outside investors. That is likely to appease some investor concerns over Uber's spending on the autonomous unit, which has topped $1 billion since the program started in 2016. The business unit brings in no meaningful revenue for Uber, which last year lost $3.03 billion. The company is not even offering free rides in the robot cars to passengers, like some of its rivals are, following a fatal crash last year in Arizona involving an Uber self-driving SUV. Uber released its IPO filing this month and is preparing to launch is "roadshow," when it will pitch its company prospective investors, the week of April 29, setting up for an early May debut on the New York Stock Exchange. Uber is expected to raise $10 billion at a $90 billion to $100 billion valuation, at least an 18 percent jump from its current $76 billion valuation. As part of the deal, ATG becomes its own legal entity but remains under the control of Uber with its financial performance folded into Uber's. A new ATG board will be formed, with six seats from Uber, one from SoftBank and one from Toyota. Eric Meyhofer, currently the head of ATG, will take the title of CEO and report to the new board. Such sizable deals are unusual for companies so close to an IPO, because bringing in large new investors changes the company's capital structure. The deal, however, will almost certainly require approval from the inter-agency regulatory group called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). A law enacted last year expands that group's powers to review minority stakes by foreign investors in startups with certain sensitive technologies, and self-driving technology is widely considered to have defense applications. SoftBank's investment in General Motors' self-driving car unit Cruise is still under CFIUS review and is likely weeks away from a decision, even though that investment was announced more than a year ago.
Hokkaido dog Kai-kun, known for his role as 'Otousan' in the Softbank CMs, passed away on June 28 due to old age. He was 16 years old.
In an announcement titled, "To the first Otousan, Kaikun, with thanks," Softbank's official website stated, "On the dawn of June 28, 2018, Hokkaido dog Kai-kun, who had starred in our TV CMs as the first Otousan of the Shirato Family since 2007, has gone to heaven due to old age. He was 16 years old."
A consortium led by SoftBank Group will buy a large number of shares of Uber in a deal that values the ride-services firm at $48 billion, Uber said on Thursday, in a victory for new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi. The price is a roughly 30 percent discount to Uber's most recent valuation of $68 billion. The deal will trigger a number of changes in the way the board oversees the company, which is dealing with federal criminal probes, a high-stakes lawsuit and an overhaul of its workplace culture. SoftBank and the rest of consortium, which includes Dragoneer Investment Group, will own approximately 17.5 percent of Uber, a person familiar with the matter said. That stake includes a share purchase from earlier investors and employees at the $48 billion valuation, as well as a $1.25 billion investment of fresh funding at the $68 billion level. Uber said the deal will close early next year. On Thursday it said that existing investors had agreed to sell enough shares for SoftBank to go through with the transaction. SoftBank itself will keep a 15 percent stake, while the rest of the consortium will own approximately 3 percent, according to a second person familiar with the matter. Khosrowshahi, who took the top job in August after Travis Kalanick was forced to step down in June, helped negotiate the deal. Uber is losing more than $1 billion each quarter, and a new cash infusion is critical. The company is also planning an initial public offering in 2019. Uber will use the investment "to support our technology investments, fuel our growth, and strengthen our corporate governance," a spokesperson, who declined to be named, said. When the deal is completed, the company will make governance changes, expanding Uber's board from 11 to 17 members including four independent directors, limiting some early shareholders' voting power and cutting the control wielded by Kalanick, who remains on the board and is still one of the largest stakeholders.
"The stockholders did the smart thing. The price is less important than locking in the governance changes and securing the support of the world's most powerful technology investor," said Erik Gordon an entrepreneurship expert at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. Rajeev Misra, chief executive of SoftBank's Vision Fund, a $98 billion tech investment vehicle, will join the Uber board, The Wall Street Journal reported. SoftBank will get two seats on the expanded board, a source told Reuters. Misra said in a statement that SoftBank has "tremendous confidence in Uber's leadership and employees." Uber board members agreed in early November to governance changes to pave the way for the SoftBank deal. Some initial investors in the consortium, including General Atlantic, dropped out over disagreement about the price offered to shareholders, Reuters previously reported. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has taken a keen interest in ride-hailing companies around the world, and already has sizeable stakes in China's Didi, Brazil-based 99, India's Ola and Singapore Grab, all of which have competed with Uber. Didi last week raised $4 billion, including some investment from SoftBank. The Uber investment comes after a year of troubles for the company, including a lawsuit by Alphabet Inc's self-driving car unit Waymo that alleges trade-secrets theft and federal investigations that span possible bribery of foreign officials in Asian countries and the use of software to evade regulators. Over the past year, a former employee's charges of endemic sexual harassment led to an internal review, London said it is stripping Uber of its license and Uber revealed it had covered up a major hack.
Reporting by Heather Somerville and Liana B. Baker
Japan’s SoftBank has reportedly been thinking about investing a big chunk of money in Uber. According to a new report, the company is planning to make an offer to purchase Uber shares at a 30 percent discount. Its offer will be based on a valuation of $48 billion which is a 30 percent discount to Uber’s most recent valuation of $68.5 billion.
Uber’s board approved the investment last month. The cash infusion is also going to bring about some corporate governance changes at the company. It would particularly limit the voting powers of some early shareholders, including that of founder and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick.