The Uber-SoftBank deal is almost done, said Arianna Huffington on stage at WSJ D.Live in Laguna Beach on Monday. When pressed whether SoftBank’s multi-billion dollar investment in Uber could be finalized within the week, the Uber board member replied that it’s “very likely.”
She confirmed media reports that the proposed deal would involve both a direct investment in the company at the last private valuation and also a secondary transaction, buying out existing shareholders at a yet-to-be-determined discount.
Uber is still “waiting on what’s going to transpire in terms of the price,” said Huffington.
She added that having SoftBank “on your cap table is very important when they’re also investing in so many of our competitors around the world.” Implying that there could be more acquisitions in ridesharing, she said to “expect to see some consolidation.”
Huffington also spoke about the difficult period Uber has faced in the past few months. The company’s work environment had come under fire, leading to the departure of several key executives, including co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.
“If your culture is so driven by growth at the expense of other things, there are consequences,” said Huffington. “Culture, we’re now recognizing, is the immune system of a company.”
She voiced optimism about Uber’s new leader, Dara Khosrowshahi. Calling him “unflappable,” she said that there’s a renewed focus on image. His “goal is to get people to love the company and not just the product.”
Huffington also said that Khosrowshahi has a greater focus on cust-cutting, in order to meet the goal of taking Uber public by 2019.
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