A Middle East investor is now Uber's single largest source of cash. On Wednesday, the global ride-sharing startup said it had raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the main investment fund of the kingdom.
The “grand gesture” from the Middle East “represents the largest-ever U.S. funding round for a venture-backed company,” wrote the Wall Street Journal.
The company said it plans to work with the government to create more opportunities for women in the country. Around 80% of Uber passengers in Saudi Arabia are women, Uber said.
This latest massive cash infusion is part of Uber's most recent financing round, in which the company is valued at $62.5 billion. None of Uber’s existing investors are cashed out with today's funding round.
“We appreciate the vote of confidence in our business as we continue to expand our global presence,” Uber founder Travis Kalanick said in a statement emailed to reporters today. “Our experience in Saudi Arabia is a great example of how Uber can benefit riders, drivers and cities and we look forward to partnering to support their economic and social reforms.”
From Mike Isaac's New York Times piece:
Uber, which has viewed the Middle East as an important area in its expansion, said the investment further aligned the company with Saudi Arabia as the kingdom planned to transform its economy, reducing its dependence on oil and improving employment.
The investment from Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest single investments collected by the technology world’s top privately held companies. Uber, whose valuation makes it Silicon Valley’s most valuable private business, has collected billions at a rapid clip over the last three years.
Uber has drawn from a wide variety of investors, including traditional venture capital firms, mutual fund giants like BlackRock and wealthy clients of firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Other sovereign wealth funds like that of Qatar have also invested.