Uber’s $10 billion investment offer from SoftBank gets the green light

Uber's $10 billion investment offer from SoftBank has finally been approved

uber founder travis kalanick steps down as ceo
Travis Kalanick decided to step down as CEO of Uber back in June following intense pressure from five major investors, The New York Times reported. But even though he’s been away from the company for quite some time, there has been no shortage of contention regarding his absence. That may finally be coming to a close with a new investment from SoftBank.

Signs began pointing toward the investment a few months ago. On Tuesday, October 3, Uber’s board of directors voted for governance changes that are said to “reshape the balance of power” and “[pave] the way for … the company to go public by 2019,” as per a New York Times report. As part of that power adjustment, the influence of board members — including Kalanick — will be reduced, allowing the company to move forward with an investment from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, and perhaps an IPO.

In November, the long-awaited SoftBank investment finally came to fruition, as Uber approved the company’s $10 billion investment — $9 billion toward buying existing shares, and $1 billion in direct investments. “We’ve entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment,” Uber said in a statement. “We believe this agreement is a strong vote of confidence in Uber’s long-term potential. Upon closing, it will help fuel our investments in technology and our continued expansion at home and abroad, while strengthening our corporate governance.”

This could bode well for Uber on many fronts, particularly with regard to the drama involving its former executive. As part of the deal, Uber investor Benchmark Capital, which sued Kalanick for fraud a few months ago, is putting its lawsuit on ice. Plus, Kalanick has agreed to give Uber’s board majority approval when it comes to his board seats if they’re ever vacated again. This ought to assuage some of Benchmark’s concerns, as the company decided to sue Kalanick after the former exec attempted to create three new seats on the board (one of which he would occupy).

Not everyone agreed with the lawsuit, however. In an email obtained by Axios, three investors — Shervin Pishevar, Ron Burkle of Yucaipa, and Adam Leber of Maverick — called Benchmark’s lawsuit “ethically dubious and, critically, value-destructive rather than value enhancing.” Noting that the case would be “fratricidal,” the three individual investors said that the move could “cost the company public goodwill, interfere with fundraising, and impede the critical search for a new, world-class chief executive officer.”

Uber’s board recently signed off on new rules that forbade current board members from contacting current Uber employees for information or assistance unless given express permission from the board. The Information reported that this decision “was triggered by Mr. Kalanick’s discussions with former colleagues that alarmed some employees, a person familiar with the matter said.”

News of the 40-year-old founder’s departure from the company followed mounting criticism over the way the company has been conducting its business. In a statement seen by the Times, Kalanick said: “I love Uber more than anything in the world, and at this difficult moment in my personal life, I have accepted the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”

According to reports, Kalanick’s decision followed a revolt among shareholders who told him that new leadership was required for the company to move forward.

Kalanick, who founded Uber in 2009, reportedly received the demand by letter while in Chicago. After several hours of discussions, he finally agreed to leave the top job.

While Uber has always faced plenty of criticism about how it conducts its business, matters appeared to take a turn for the worse earlier this year when a former employee made allegations of a company culture where sexual harassment and gender discrimination was rife.

Besides concerns about its workplace culture, the company is also embroiled in a legal battle with Google spinoff Waymo over the alleged theft of autonomous-car tech. It’s also facing a probe by the Department of Justice following accusations that it used secret technology to hide its vehicles from officials in some cities where attempts were being made to cut down on the service.

Uber’s investors hope new leadership will set the company on a steadier course free of controversy, but even the decision to force out Kalanick has proven controversial. As originally reported by Recode, Uber employees circulated a petition asking the company’s board to keep Kalanick on in some capacity; it garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

Update: Uber has finally signed SoftBank’s $10 billion investment. 

Movies & TV

From Big Daddy to Murder Mystery, these are Adam Sandler’s best movies

Adam Sandler has gone from being a Saturday Night Live star to one of the biggest forces in comedy, having both produced and starred in a long list of hit movies over the last 30 years. Here's a ranking of his 10 best films to date.
Social Media

The FTC will hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine over privacy violations

Facebook has agreed to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its numerous “privacy missteps." Once it goes through, this would be the largest FTC fine for a major technology company – and a huge chunk of…
Movies & TV

Amazon's Lord of the Rings series looks to Jurassic World for its director

Amazon Studios is betting big on its Lord of the Rings prequel series, which has a multiseason commitment and a budget of more than $1 billion. The series' first season will arrive by 2021.

Samsung, T-Mobile to recycle an old phone for every S10e sold in the Netherlands

A Dutch company called Closing the Loop has persuaded Samsung and T-Mobile to trial an offsetting scheme whereby new phone purchases are offset by the recycling of old scrap phones that would otherwise end up in landfill.

ABS brakes helped airlines make more money before they helped you stop

ABS -- a technology that prevents cars from skidding under heavy braking -- has been around since the 1950s, when it was first applied to airplanes. Chrysler and Bendix jointly get credit for developing four-wheel electronic ABS in 1971.
Smart Home

Amazon cuts prices of ChargePoint, JuiceBox, and Siemens home EV chargers

Amazon cut the prices on ChargePoint, JuiceBox, and Siemens Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) home chargers to help plug-in vehicle drivers recharge their car batteries much faster than plugging into a regular home electrical outlet.

The Rev-1 delivery robot is fast enough to hit the bike lane

Tootling into view is yet another wheel-based delivery robot, this one from U.S. startup Refraction A.I. The Rev-1 is designed for last-mile deliveries and is said to be faster and cheaper than many of its rivals.

Volkswagen and Ford confirm partnership on electric cars, autonomous driving

Volkswagen and Ford have confirmed a major tech-sharing deal. It will give Ford access to VW's MEB platform, which will underpin many of the German automaker's future electric cars. The Ford MEB electric car launches in 2023.

2020 Buick Enclave three-row crossover will give you a back massage

The 2020 Buick Enclave gets a number of small updates, including massaging front seats and a new infotainment system compatible with SiriusXM's 360L streaming service. The updated Buick Enclave goes on sale later this summer.

Amazon Prime Day 2019 deal dishes 15% discount on the Garmin Dash Cam 55

Amazon Prime Day 2019 promises great discounts on lots of items. Aside from the usual gadgets and appliances, deals for the Garmin Dash Cam 55 and other automotive tech products are also popping up.

Fiat wants to transform the cheeky 500 city car into an urban Tesla

Fiat is finally preparing a new 500. Scheduled to make its debut in early 2020, the retro-chic city car will go electric in part to comply with looming emissions regulations.

How selectable driving modes are able to turn your car from Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde

If you don’t have unlimited cash to spend on buying a whole stable of cars to fit every need and occasion, you’re going to need your current car to fill multiple roles.

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Drone lens, laser synth, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

10 crazy technologies and innovations banned from Formula One

Formula One prides itself on being at the pinnacle of racing technology, but that means teams sometimes push things over the edge. Here are 10 examples of tech that was banned from Formula One.