Explaining SoftBank's Uber Investment
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SoftBank issued a brief statement Thursday in the name of the CEO of its investment arm, Rajeev Misra. In its entirety it read:
“We are very pleased to have successfully closed the Uber investment and appreciate the support and professionalism of the Board, management team and shareholders who made this transaction possible. Uber has a very bright future under its new leadership. It is now part of a wider SoftBank network ranging from Sprint to WeWork. I look forward to SoftBank helping Uber become an even bigger global success.”
Some facts, per Bloomberg, (with some of my comments):
—The investment totaled $9.3 billion, partly directly into Uber at a valuation of about $70 billion, partly to buy out other investors at a significant discount. The blended valuation is $54 billion. (A come down but still giant.)
—Two SoftBank representatives, Misra and Sprint s CEO Marcelo Claure, will join the board. But there are four additional vacancies to what will be a 17-member body. (Awkward, from a governance perspective.)
—The investment ends preferred voting rights held by early investors, including longtime CEO Travis Kalanick. (A sign Uber might end its soap-opera period.)
The most interesting parts of SoftBank’s statement are what it didn’t say. It praised the “professionalism” of the board, management team and investors in closing the deal—an all but explicit knock on the lack of professionalism by the board, management team, and investors (read: Benchmark Capital) during much of 2017. It also mentioned an office space and a phone company in its “SoftBank network” but not Uber competitors Didi and Grab, the strange bedfellows SoftBank has now made for Uber.
Maybe it’s premature to say Uber might be ending its soap-opera period.
I apologize for saying yesterday that Microsoft msft had “won” its antitrust suit with the Justice Department. True, the feds didn’t break up Microsoft, the way they did AT&T. It’s also true that Microsoft’s enemies thought the consent decree it signed was too weak. But to say Microsoft emerged victorious for having settled with Justice wasn’t altogether right. Thank you to Pallavi Guniganti for pointing this out to me on Twitter.