Hello and welcome to another Equity Shot, a quick-hit episode of our venture-capital themed podcast. (Equity, released every Friday, focuses on the money behind the headlines.)
This week Katie Roof and I — Alex Wilhelm — sank our teeth into the story that roiled the tech community’s weekend and continued to cause waves today. Yes, the Uber-SoftBank story — which we might want to call the Uber-SoftBank-Dragoneer story now, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves. A quick refresher is in order, I think. Without further ado:
- From 2009 through the start of 2017 Uber, a ridesharing company, grew from a small startup into a category-defining player. It raised billions of dollars, driving its valuation north of $60 billion in the process. Its abrasive corporate culture and brash CEO, Travis Kalanick, were industry staples that, until their later cleaving, were considered nigh-inseparable.
- Uber, no stranger to controversy in the years prior, had a terrible 2017. From explosive allegations of sexism, a broken culture, staggering losses, executive turnover, a lawsuit from Google’s parent company, regulatory issues, increasingly well-funded competition abroad, a dynamic competitor at home and, eventually, a lawsuit against Kalanick from early investor Benchmark, all kept Uber in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
- Kalanick was forced out earlier this year, but still managed to let slip the poodle of conflict by exercising a prior, disputed right to appoint two board members.
Dara Khosrowshahi eventually replaced Kalanick. Khosrowshahi is in favor of a notable deal with SoftBank — current purveyor of an epic pile of impatient dollars — that will see $1 billion invested in Uber itself, around $9 billion of secondary transactions and management changes that will reduce Kalanick’s influence over the board.
And, it was that deal that seemed to be underway this weekend. Until, of course, SoftBank decided that it might not be fully committed. Or perhaps that’s just a head-fake.
Ah, boom times. What a joy you are. Hit play and let’s unspool this particular thread together.
Equity will be back on Friday as normal.