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posted by martyb on Monday November 13, @05:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the losing-money-each-ride-but-will-make-it-up-in-volume dept.

Uber board strikes agreement to pave way for SoftBank investment

Uber Technologies Inc's warring board members have struck a peace deal that allows a multibillion-dollar investment by SoftBank Group Corp to proceed, and which would resolve a legal battle between former Chief Executive Travis Kalanick and a prominent shareholder.

Venture capital firm Benchmark, an early investor with a board seat in the ride-services company, and Kalanick have reached an agreement over terms of the SoftBank investment, which could be worth up to $10 billion, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The Uber board first agreed more than a month ago to bring in SoftBank as an investor and board member, but negotiations have been slowed by ongoing fighting between Benchmark and Kalanick. The agreement struck on Sunday removed the final obstacle to allowing SoftBank to proceed with an offer to buy to[sic] stock.

Also at TechCrunch.

Related: Softbank to Invest $50 Billion in the US
SoftBank's $80-100 Billion "Vision Fund" Takes Shape
SoftBank May Sell 25% of ARM to Vision Fund; Chairman Meets With Saudi King
SoftBank Acquires Boston Dynamics and Schaft From Google
Travis Kalanick Appoints Two New Uber Board Members in "Power Play"
Saudi Arabia Planning $500 Billion Megacity and Business Zone

Original Submission

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Softbank to Invest $50 Billion in the US 49 comments

SoftBank Group Corp. Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son told President-elect Donald Trump he would create 50,000 new jobs in the U.S. through a $50 billion investment in startups and new companies.

The money will come from SoftBank's previously announced $100 billion technology fund, according to a person familiar with the matter. That investment vehicle has a $45 billion commitment from the government of Saudi Arabia and $25 billion from Tokyo-based SoftBank, which operates technology and wireless companies around the world.

[...] Some investments from SoftBank's fund, which was unveiled in October, were probably destined for the U.S. anyway, given the nation's leadership in the global technology industry. But Son hadn't previously committed to creating a specific amount of jobs through the investment vehicle.

More coverage from Washington Post and Reuters.

Original Submission

SoftBank's $80-100 Billion "Vision Fund" Takes Shape 7 comments

Saudi Arabia, SoftBank, Apple, Qualcomm, and Larry Ellison are creating a massive investment fund, and SoftBank's CEO Masayoshi Son is sounding increasingly Kurzweilian:

[SoftBank Group Corp.'s Masayoshi] Son reiterated his belief that computers will exceed humans in intelligence in three decades, and that within this period he expects one computer chip to have the equivalent of a 10,000 IQ. "I really believe this," he said at a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday. The growth in computer ability was "why I acquired ARM," he said.

[...] SoftBank is aiming to close the first round of investment in its technology Vision Fund by the end of this month, people familiar with the matter have said. The initial investments will likely include $45 billion from Saudi Arabia and $25 billion from SoftBank, as well as $1 billion each from Apple Inc., Qualcomm Inc. and Oracle Corp. Chairman Larry Ellison, they said. The initial round is likely to exceed $80 billion and the timing of the closing may still change, said one of the people.

"We believe the singularity is inevitable and all businesses will be redefined as computers overtake humans in intelligence," Son said at an earnings briefing in November.

SoftBank recently bought U.S. private equity firm Fortress, which oversees around $70 billion of assets. It paid $3.3 billion, $1 billion more than the firm's market value. Fortress will help manage the SoftBank Vision Fund.

NBF articles one and two. Also at TechCrunch.

Original Submission

SoftBank May Sell 25% of ARM to Vision Fund; Chairman Meets With Saudi King 9 comments

SoftBank will reportedly sell a 25% stake in ARM ($8 billion) to the ~$100 billion investment fund it has jointly created with Saudi Arabia, Apple, and others. ARM Holdings was bought by SoftBank for around $32 billion last year.

SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son met with Saudi King Salman during the King's state visit to Japan. Son gave the King one of his company's humanoid robots. Saudi Arabia is seeking investors as it prepares to launch an initial public offering for Saudi Aramco. Toyota agreed to conduct a feasibility study into the idea of production in Saudi Arabia, the result of one of twenty memorandums of understanding signed by Japanese companies and institutions with Saudi Arabia.

Also at The Telegraph, and Arab News (extra).

Related: Softbank to Invest $50 Billion in the US

Original Submission

SoftBank Acquires Boston Dynamics and Schaft From Google 18 comments

Over a year after signalling its intentions to dump the robotics demonstration company Boston Dynamics, Alphabet/Google has finally found a buyer: SoftBank. SoftBank acquired ARM Holdings for around $32 billion in 2016. Google also offloaded another robotics company, Schaft:

Google's ambitions for Boston Dynamics were never really clear. Before being acquired, the robotics company was mostly funded by DARPA—the US military's research division—with the express purpose of creating militarised robots. Within a year of being picked up, though, Google announced that it would no longer pursue any DARPA contracts, presumably to focus on possible commercial uses for the bots. No commercial robots ever emerged.

SoftBank, however, has had success with commercialising robots—specifically the small humanoid robot Pepper.

Also at The Verge, The Guardian, TNW, CNN, CNBC, and TechCrunch.

Previously: Pentagon Scientists Show Off Robot And Prosthetics
Google's Noisy "BigDog" Robot Fails to Impress U.S. Marine Corps
Google's Latest Boston Dynamics Robot Takes a Stand
Boston Dynamics Produces a Wheeled Terror as Google Watches Nervously

Original Submission

Travis Kalanick Appoints Two New Uber Board Members in "Power Play" 18 comments

In a move that has not amused some of the company's investors and board members, Uber's former CEO Travis Kalanick has appointed two new members to Uber's board. The move has been described as a "power play":

Kalanick said in an announcement late Friday that he had appointed Ursula Burns, Xerox Corp.'s former CEO, and John Thain, the ex-Merrill Lynch chief, to the startup's board. Uber challenged the appointments, calling them "a complete surprise."

The former CEO is defending himself against a lawsuit brought by Uber's largest shareholder, Benchmark, over his authority to fill the two board seats. Kalanick says he controls three of the company's eleven board seats. Benchmark is suing Kalanick for fraud and has asked him to relinquish control of board positions. The suit is in private arbitration.

Kalanick resigned as CEO on June 20 after Benchmark and a group of early investors asked him to step down. Uber's board has been rife with infighting and underwent a contentious process to select former Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as its new chief.

"I am appointing these seats now in light of a recent board proposal to dramatically restructure the board and significantly alter the company's voting rights," Kalanick said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg. "It is therefore essential that the full board be in place for proper deliberation to occur, especially with such experienced board members as Ursula and John."

Also at NYT, TechCrunch, Recode, and WSJ.

Original Submission

Saudi Arabia Planning $500 Billion Megacity and Business Zone 27 comments

Saudi Arabia is planning to build a new $500+ billion city on the coast of the Red Sea. The zone will be connected to Jordan by land and Egypt by a bridge across the Red Sea. SoftBank's Vision Fund will buy a stake in the state-owned Saudi Electricity Co., which will power the city using clean energy. The project is called NEOM:

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to build a new city and business zone - a project that will be backed up by more than $500bn (£381bn) in investment.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says the 26,500 sq km (10,232 sq mile) NEOM zone will be developed in the north-west, extending to Egypt and Jordan.

It will focus on nine sectors including food technology and, energy and water.

The crown prince has been leading a drive to move Saudi Arabia away from its dependence on oil revenues.

In August, the Gulf kingdom launched a massive tourism development project to turn 50 islands and other sites on the Red Sea into luxury resorts.

However, the extremely ambitious nature of Mohammed bin Salman's vision is sure to raise questions about how realistic it is, the BBC's economics correspondent Andrew Walker says.

What is "NEOM"? "Neo" (Latin for "new") + "Mostaqbal" (Arabic for "future").

Also at Bloomberg (alternate editorial) and Reuters.

Related: SoftBank's $80-100 Billion "Vision Fund" Takes Shape
SoftBank May Sell 25% of ARM to Vision Fund; Chairman Meets With Saudi King

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, @05:35PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, @05:35PM (#596327)
    is worth billions of dollars to some people.

    Fools and their money, I guess.
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday November 13, @09:03PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday November 13, @09:03PM (#596456)

      I invested in SoftBank when they acquired ARM... coincidentally, they also got a Trump "enhancement" shortly thereafter and increased in value rather quickly.

      Now... Uber, I can't see this going well long-term, so, maybe if the rest of the market disagrees with me and bids SFTBY way up, it might be time to let go...

      On the other hand, "Billions" is comparatively small change in the greater Softbank picture.

    • (Score: 2) by Virindi on Monday November 13, @09:03PM

      by Virindi (3484) on Monday November 13, @09:03PM (#596457)

      In this case it's not just that. They also have customers accustomed to buying their service, and drivers who rely on them for employment (and car loans apparently)...

      The app itself is not the point.

  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Geezer on Monday November 13, @07:04PM (1 child)

    by Geezer (511) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 13, @07:04PM (#596377)

    Lots of old things still work perfectly well, and thus continue to be manufactured, sold, and used. What's unusual or news worthy about it?

    Not me.

    Scruting the inscrutable for over 60 years.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, @08:38PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, @08:38PM (#596444)

      You haven't seen my IHammer, the cloud connected hammering hammer, you can scan your nails for QR codes to see if they are IHammer compatible []

      The IHammer is crowed sourced

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, @08:29PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, @08:29PM (#596434)

    Softbank is pure capitalism, if you have capital you just buy markets, mercenaries, regulations laws.. I think there might be another name for this... Oh right it's Fascism

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday November 13, @10:27PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday November 13, @10:27PM (#596519)

      Softbank's market cap is hovering around $100B - that's more than the GDP of Nicaragua and Costa Rica combined, or about half the GDP of Portugal.

      So, yeah, they have the means to influence countries, and even easier: lawmakers.