Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi perfectly sums up how CEOs feel about taking money from SoftBank

“I’d rather have their capital cannon behind me.”

Silicon Valley CEOs mulling whether to accept at an investment offer from SoftBank’s VIsion Fund always seem to have one alternate history in the backs of their minds:

What happens if I decline, and SoftBank funds my rival instead?

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, whose company just stared down that same question late last year as it negotiated a high-stakes deal with the $ 100 billion fund, gave voice to that intellectual exercise today as he offered an overview of his business to Goldman Sachs clients and investors.

“Rather than having their capital cannon facing me, I’d rather have their capital cannon behind me, all right?” Khosrowshahi said today at Goldman’s tech conference.

SoftBank insisted during the negotiations that it was perfectly willing to go invest in Lyft instead if the Uber deal fell through. SoftBank has at times negotiated with multiple competitors in order to locate the best deal — and retain leverage.

Uber’s CEO offered an amibitous vision for the company, saying he didn’t want it to be seen as purely a car-for-hire company — but one that would take any person on any transit system — “from point A to point B, whatever the best way.”

“I want to run the bus systems for a city,” Khosrowshahi said. “I want you to be able to take an Uber and get into the subway — if the trains are running on time, you’ve got real-time data — get in the subway, get out and have an Uber waiting for you for right now. Or know that there’s a bike right there for you that gets you where you’re going in the fastest manner.”

Khosrowshahi also offered more of an explanation on Wednesday on last week’s decision to settle the lawsuit filed by Alphabet over whether Uber stole self-driving technology secrets from Waymo, Alphabet’s subsidiary.

Khosrowshahi called the suit “a personal affront” to Uber scientists because it “put their really good work under a question mark.” But he said the deal was intended mostly to remove the distraction and allow the company to focus more on its core business.

The Uber CEO portrayed the company he inherited as a very strong business — “a better business than I thought” when he took the job — but one with a damaged brand that he plans to try repair.

“Getting the love back is a very, very important priority for us,” he said.


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SoftBank has a new public relations chief to help it explain its huge deals

Andrew Kovacs jumps from Sequoia to SoftBank.

The investing firm at the center of seemingly every major tech deal now has more help to deal with the barrage of interest in its every move.

Andrew Kovacs, the former head of communications at Sequoia Capital, has joined SoftBank to helm communications at the Vision Fund, which is investing $ 100 billion in technology. SoftBank skeptics abound, and it will be Kovacs’s job to help the confident Japanese investors explain their thinking behind investments that are in hundreds of millions of dollars.

Despite its massive budget, the staff at the Vision Fund remains relatively small — the company is trying to aggressively hire more investment professionals and support staff. SoftBank has engaged in some PR battles, though, in the course of the Vision Fund though — most prominently when negotiating a mega deal with Uber. But adding an in-house communications official should help.

Kovacs, a former top PR man at Google, has worked at Sequoia since 2012 and guided the company’s messaging through a series of hit investments. All old-guard venture firms have had to grapple with SoftBank’s rise: Sequoia is raising a fund of more than $ 5 billion that should give it more firepower to bid on huge deals.


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SoftBank buys into Line’s mobile service in Japan

 SoftBank is partnering up with messaging app Line to help develop its Line Mobile telecom service. Line announced that it has agreed to allow SoftBank to take a 51 percent in the business via an issuance of new shares. The deal is expected to close by March. From the documents, its mobile business is valued at around $ 15 million (1.7 billion JPY) but a company spokesperson told TechCrunch… Read More
Mobile – TechCrunch