The world's most valuable startup company is apparently a lot less valuable, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. The news outlet says ride-share pioneer Uber has agreed to sell roughly 20% of itself to a technology investment fund run by Softbank Group in a complex deal that values all of Uber at $48 billion, or around 30% less than its most recent valuation of $70 billion.
The plunge in Uber's value may reflect dimming global growth prospects and tougher competition from ride-share rivals in the U.S., Europe and Asia. It also suggests the damage done to the Uber brand by a series of scandals and stumbles that led to the ouster of CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick in June after an internal investigation concluded he had built a culture that allowed female workers to be sexually harassed and encouraged employees to push legal limits.
In November, Uber also came clean about its coverup ofthat stole personal information about more than 57 million of its customers and drivers. There's no evidence that the data taken has been misused, according to Uber's recently hired CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi. Nothing malicious has happened partly because Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to destroy the stolen information, last month.
Uber suffered another blow this month when the European Union's top court ruled that the ride-share company should be regulated like a taxi company and not a technology service, a decision that could change the way Uber functions across the continent and crimp its future profit potential.
Uber, founded less than nine years ago, has been plowing through investor cash as part of its ambitious drive for global dominance in ride-hailing services that has upended local taxi monopolies around the world but has yet to produce any real profits for the startup or its investors
The latest available numbers, published earlier this year by Bloomberg, show Uber lost a whopping $2.8 billion in 2016 on net revenue of $6.6 billion from gross bookings of $20.0 billion. The financial results would have been even worse if Uber's struggling China business -- which was sold this past July -- had been included.
Softbank Group is the Japanese telecommunications giant that owns Sprint Corp., among many properties. Its Softbank Vision Fund is a nearly $100 billion investment fund snapping up stakes in emerging technology companies around the world, with roughly half the money targeted for investments in the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that SoftBank wants to appoint to Uber's board Rajeev Misra, who runs the Vision Fund, and Marcelo Claure, the chief executive of Sprint. SoftBank Vice Chairman Ron Fisher also has been under consideration for an Uber board seat, the Journal said.