Uber just secured its largest investment from a single investor — $3.5 billion dollars from Saudi Arabia to be specific. The ride-hail service announced today that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund — an arm of the government — had made the investment and obtained a company board seat as a result. So reports the New York Times, which says that this move doesn't change the company's $62.5 billion valuation it's just a nice new influx of cash.
“We appreciate the vote of confidence in our business as we continue to expand our global presence,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a statement. “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.”
Yasir Al Rumayyan of the Public Investment Fund issued a statement regarding the deal and noted that it fits into the fund's larger strategy to diversify the country's economy.
“We’ve seen firsthand how this company has improved urban mobility around the world, and we’re looking forward to being part of that progress,” said Al Rumayyan. “As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign investment arm, we’re focused on achieving attractive long-term financial returns from our investments, while supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the blueprint for diversifying our economy away from oil.”
CNN Money reports that Uber has operated in Saudi Arabia, a country in which (according to the Times) only 15 percent of women work and which does not allow women to drive, since 2014.
The company has now raised a total of $11.5 billion, reports Mashable. This money will likely be used to further the Uber's expansion into the Middle East, with the Times noting announced plans to invest $250 million in the region.
This news follows just a month after we learned that neighbor Qatar's sovereign wealth fund appears to be looking to buy the St. Regis hotel in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, at least one person sees this partnership as a natural one, although not for any of the above reasons.