An Uber-Softbank deal is "very likely" to occur within the next week, according to Arianna Huffington, who spoke at Wall Street Journal's D.Live event in Laguna Beach, CA. She wouldn't disclose the price -- it seems they're still working out the details -- but she did say that the Softbank investment would involve primary investing at the last valuation of the company, as well as secondary investing in additional shares. This means that the Japanese company could end up with at least 14 percent of Uber's shares. "The Softbank investment is so important," said Huffington, adding that Uber has lost quite a lot of money because of the competition (aka Lyft). "Having them on your cap table is very important when they're also investing in so many of our competitors around the world," she added, referring to rivals like Singapore's Grab and China's Didi Chuxing.
SoftBank Vision Fund will claim a 19.6 percent stake in General Motors Cruise Holdings, the automaker's autonomous vehicle unit, following a $2.25 billion investment. General Motors (GM) said the deal will further strengthen its plans to commercialise autonomous vehicle technology "at scale", which is on track beginning 2019. "GM has made significant progress toward realising the dream of completely automated driving to dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions, and congestion," said Michael Ronen, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. "The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage." At the closing of the transaction, Vision Fund will invest the first tranche of $900 million.
SoftBank hasn't been shy about its interest in smart cars, and it's taking that fascination to a new level. The company's Vision Fund is investing $2.25 billion in GM's self-driving vehicle unit Cruise. The cash influx will start with $900 million the moment the transaction closes, and will finish with $1.35 billion once the completely driverless Cruise AV car is ready to launch. The move will give the Vision Fund a 19.6 percent stake in Cruise -- not enough to take control, but it could easily prove influential. This isn't a complete shock when the Fund has been pouring money into ride-hailing services like Uber, Didi Chuxing and Grab on top of its usual tech investments.
The Softbank Vision Fund is investing $2.25 billion in Cruise, the arm of General Motors tasked with developing fully self-driving cars, and putting them into commercial service sometime, somewhere, in 2019. It's the most significant deal to date in a nascent but booming industry, and confirms that GM, despite getting a late start compared to Google sister company Waymo, is among the leading players. The investment will allow GM the financial flexibility to keep up Cruise's rapid growth--it announced last year it's adding 1,100 jobs over the course of five years--without taking away from its current, core, revenue-generating business: manufacturing human-driven cars, for humans to buy. And it gives Softbank a 19.6 percent stake in Cruise, which amounts to a major foothold in an industry that could be worth $7 trillion in the next few decades. As long as government regulators OK the deal, Softbank will make the investment in two tranches, starting with $900 million, then $1.35 billion once Cruise puts its robo-cars in service.