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.
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.