Uber Technologies Inc. has closed a new round of funding valuing the five-year-old ride-hailing company at close to $51 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, equaling Facebook Inc.’s record for a private venture-backed startup.
Uber raised close to $1 billion in the round, one of the people said, bringing its total funding to more than $5 billion. The San Francisco company initially had briefed investors on a plan to raise between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in the round, The Wall Street Journal reported in May.
Investors in the latest round include MicrosoftCorp. and the investment arm of Indian media conglomerate Bennett Coleman & Co., another person familiar with the matter said, as Uber seeks allies to help bolster its technology and expand in large markets outside the U.S.
An Uber spokeswoman said the company had filed a document in Delaware in May to authorize the latest funding round. “We aren’t commenting on additional speculation,” the spokeswoman said.
Microsoft declined to comment. A Bennett Coleman executive didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Uber’s valuation has now reached the high-water mark set by Facebook in 2011, when Goldman Sachs offered wealthy clients outside the U.S. shares of the social network that implied a $50 billion valuation, not including the money raised.
At the time, Facebook was nearly seven years old. Uber just turned five.
Uber’s faster rise to $50 billion reflects its aggressive global expansion into more than 300 cities and growing popularity ferrying millions of riders daily.
In addition, Chief Executive Travis Kalanick has proved one of Silicon Valley’s most adept fundraisers. Uber’s investors include Qatar’s sovereign-wealth fund; multiple hedge funds; Amazon.comInc. founder Jeff Bezos; and the venture arm of Google Inc.
Not all those deals have gone smoothly. Google invested more than $250 million in 2013 and has helped Uber add new users by promoting ride-sharing in its popular mobile maps. But friction has emerged between the two companies in recent months as Uber has taken steps to compete with Google in self-driving cars
Uber’s latest financing vaults it past Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. as the world’s most highly valued private startup. Xiaomi attained a $46 billion valuation last December.
Microsoft is one of a handful of large software companies with experience in online maps, an area where Uber has looked to develop its own capabilities. In a deal announced in June, Uber acquired assets related to street imaging and 3-D views used by Microsoft’s Bing Maps service and offered jobs to roughly 100 of its workers.
For its latest funding, Uber also sought out large media conglomerates outside the U.S., in regions where the company is trying to build grass roots support for its battles with traditional taxi operators and local regulators. Times Internet, which runs investments and oversees websites for Bennett Coleman, contributed to the new investment round after taking a stake in Uber earlier this year as part of a marketing deal.
Separately, Uber said this week that it would invest $1 billion in Indiain the next nine months. The company has faced regulatory roadblocks in the country since December, when the app was bannedafter a woman said she was raped by an Uber driver. The driver denies wrongdoing and is currently on trial.
Last year, Uber said it raised $600 million from Baidu Inc., China’s leading search engine. That alliance has helped Uber compete with homegrown Chinese rival Didi Kauidi Joint Co., which has the support of China’s top two Internet companies, Alibaba Holding Group Ltd. and Tencent Holding Ltd.
Uber also has held talks with investors to raise funds for UberChina, a separate unit of the business funded by local investors. That round could be closed as soon as next week, the person familiar with the situation said.
Uber hasn’t publicly discussed plans for an initial public offering, butit has sold convertible debt to investors whose value is tied in part to a future IPO price. Uber also negotiated a $2 billion credit line with a group of big banks, a move often made by companies planning to go public, the Journal has reported.
source: wsj.com By DOUGLAS MACMILLAN And TELIS DEMOS