The new year again began with a bang for Uber. Founder Travis Kalanick, who had maintained he would never sell shares in the company he built and co-founded, today said he plans to sell close to 29 percent of his stake in the San Francisco-based giant.
Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal reported that Travis could get close to $1.4 billion from the transaction, which will bring in the Softbank Group, and a consortium of investors, who are looking to invest a total of $10 billion in the company at a valuation of $48 billion. This valuation is a steep $20 billion drop from the earlier $68 billion.
It has been long speculated that Softbank would invest in Uber if Travis reduced his stake in the company. Currently, Travis is believed to hold 10 percent stake in the company. The main reason for Travis offloading stake is to honour the limits outlined in the agreement between Uber and its new investors.
In November last year, Uber confirmed that Softbank's deal to invest $10 billion was in the works. However, it’s investor battles were far from over.
In a statement released on November 14, Softbank said, "The Uber board and its shareholders, as well as the SoftBank Group side, have come to a basic agreement on a process for the SoftBank Group to make a future investment in Uber. However, while the SoftBank Group side is considering an investment in Uber, there is no final agreement at this stage.
“If conditions on share price and a minimum of shares are not satisfactory for the SoftBank Group side, there is a possibility the SoftBank Group may not make an investment.”
Now that Travis has said he will reduce his stake, reports suggest the SoftBank deal could be closed later this month. The Wall Street Journal adds Kalanick’s influence at Uber may likely significantly reduce once the deal goes through.
With the proposed deal, SoftBank and other investors will pump in $1 billion directly into the company, and $9 billion through buying existing shares. The total ownership of Softbank and investor Dragoneer in Uber will go to around 14 percent post the deal.
Last year was a bad one for Uber with Travis taking a leave of absence, and allegations of sexism. What followed was legal battles and Dara Khosrowshahi being brought in as the CEO in place of Travis.
The proposed deal will also get Benchmark, one of the key investors in Uber, to drop its lawsuit against Travis. This deal is also labeled as an extension of Uber’s Series G round.
Since Travis stepped down as CEO and made way for Dara, there have been several media reports speculating that the former is looking to be reinstated.
What will be interesting is to see how the planned fund infusion will affect the Indian cab war dynamics. SoftBank, which already holds stake in Bengaluru-based unicorn cab aggregator Ola, will also hold a share in rival Uber. In fact, Ola today is one of the hottest unicorns in India, valued at close to $4 billion, while Uber is ruling the roost globally.
Dhananjay Sharma, Associate Consultant, RedSeer Consulting, adds,
“Over the past six to seven years, the Indian market has seen a sea change. With growing traffic troubles, the need for cab aggregators and bike taxis is fast growing in India. According to all our reports, the consumer demand has been consistently growing.”
Apart from the market, what makes this more interesting is the fact that Uber now has a lot of mixed blood with Ola. Last year, Uber conceded a defeat of sorts in China, selling stake in its Chinese subsidiary to Didi. And Didi's funding of $5.5 billion this year was led by Silver Lake Kraftwerk, and joined by existing investors Banks of Communications Co, China Merchants Bank Co, and SoftBank. In December 2015, Ola, GrabTaxi, Lyft, and Didi Kuaidi formed a global alliance to take on Uber in India.
How this pans out the scenario in India? Only time will tell.