According to the Wall Street Journal, Japan’s SoftBank, the world’s largest tech investor, has already invested $ 20 billion in global car-service companies, including Uber, a car-service giant. Now, however, these companies are competing with each other at least for part of their SoftBank investments.
In Japan, Uber is poised to compete with China’s dribbling trips, which are planning to enter the Japanese market after acquiring about $ 10 billion in Softbank investments. In India, Uber is facing competition from Ola, a taxi service owned by ANI Technologies, a local company that owns about 30% of Ola’s shares and board seats. This year, Softbank acquired Uber 15% of the shares for 7.7 billion U.S. dollars.
Uber and Ola also have fierce competition in Australia, and Ola began operating there in February this year. In South East Asia, Uber lags behind Singapore-based Grab, which received a $ 750 million investment from SoftBank in 2016, with its president from SoftBank.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, said in a February visit to Tokyo: “If you plan to do business with Softbank, you have to get accustomed to their habit of doing business in competition.” Softbank’s Goals It is the start-up company it invests in helping each other, which is what Coslosagh calls the “Softbank family.”
According to people familiar with the thinking of SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, the idea behind this idea is that these companies can work together in research and development and seek joint ventures in a global shift to driverless cars.
At a recent press conference, Son Masayi said: “If Uber, Dribble, or Grab’s management would talk to each other and reach an agreement that would raise shareholder value, we will look at that.” But we will not force They do anything. ”
Venture capitalists say they typically stay cautious and do not invest in rival companies because doing so can lead to concerns of distrust or conflict of interest. In addition, the conventional wisdom is that it does not make much sense to fund a company that may cannibalize this revenue.
Vinnie Lauria, founder of Golden Gate Ventures, a venture capital firm in Singapore, said Softbank is breaking some of these rules in part because it owes so much money that it looks more like “a company looking to consolidate its markets Private Equity Acquisition Company. ”
Founded by Son Zhengyi in 1981, Softbank, which was originally a software distributor, has now invested in more than 1,300 companies. The company’s best-known investment, which invested $ 20 million in 2000 to support Alibaba Group, has become about $ 140 billion.
As Softbank acquired a large number of shares of US wireless operator Sprint and the British chip design company ARM Holdings, Sun turned to external investors last year to launch the $ 92 billion Vision Fund, the world’s largest technology fund. This well-funded fund gives SoftBank more flexibility to make long-term global investments in sectors such as on-demand transportation. Softbank executives said they are willing to tolerate temporary infighting between invested taxi service companies and are prepared to wait 10 years or more for high returns.
Softbank executives also said that eventually only one car service company will dominate each region. Given the size of each market, these companies may find it unnecessary to expand further. In the meantime, executives say they will not mind more cooperation.
However, Softbank has a strategic impact on the companies it invests in, after all, having only a minority stake and controlling one or two seats on the board of directors. But for Uber, Drip and other start-ups, Softbank’s additional investment means they will have more “firepower” to keep fighting as they seek global growth.
While interviewed by reporters in New Delhi recently, Coslosassi said: “Although Softbank may have its own opinions, their opinions are not the only opinions.” He declined to comment on whether Softbank is pushing Uber to merge with its competitors.
In Japan, due to its strict local regulations, it is one of the few major markets that have not been hit by the wave of global car sales, and the family relationships that Softbank desperately wants begin to burst. A similar strategy is being adopted by Softbank-backed Drips and Uber to capture the Japanese market, which sets the stage for competition.
Uber currently uses Uber Eats and black taxi deployment services in Japan. In February of this year, Drip Drop said it will form a joint venture with Softbank to enter the market and launch an application to connect passengers to licensed cabs rather than to regular cars. This move addresses the concerns of Japanese regulators over the gray market.
In the meantime, Coslosasi said Uber will look for better opportunities in Japan’s $ 16 billion taxi industry. In a February event in Tokyo, he said: “Obviously, we need a different way of doing business, that is, working with the taxi industry.”
Informed sources said that in India, Ola worried that Softbank may push its business operations and Uber merger, rather than remain independent. Ola was founded in 2011, which is Uber into India two years ago. Last year, SoftBank was involved in a $ 1.1 billion Ola-led financing by China Tencent.
Meanwhile, Uber is competing with Grab, another rival backed by Softbank, for dominance in Southeast Asia. Last year, Grab received a $ 2.5 billion investment from Softbank and Pittsburgh. Founded in 2012, the company operates in 178 cities in Southeast Asia. Uber arrived in the area in 2013 and operates in more than 60 cities.
Olaf Sakkers, a partner at Maniv Mobility, an Israeli venture capital fund that specializes in autonomous driving, said: “The competition is hard to control, and funding both parties to a price war will be very expensive “