Huffington: Uber 'very likely' to close Softbank deal in the next week

She also addressed how Uber is attempting to mend its toxic culture.
Nicole Lee
N. Lee|10.17.17

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An Uber-Softbank deal is "very likely" to occur within the next week, according to Arianna Huffington, who spoke at Wall Street Journal's D.Live event in Laguna Beach, CA. She wouldn't disclose the price -- it seems they're still working out the details -- but she did say that the Softbank investment would involve primary investing at the last valuation of the company, as well as secondary investing in additional shares. This means that the Japanese company could end up with at least 14 percent of Uber's shares.

"The Softbank investment is so important," said Huffington, adding that Uber has lost quite a lot of money because of the competition (aka Lyft). "Having them on your cap table is very important when they're also investing in so many of our competitors around the world," she added, referring to rivals like Singapore's Grab and China's Didi Chuxing. As for whether she's concerned about Softbank investing in Uber's competitors, she waved it off, saying "This is not marriage; this is a business."

Huffington also talked about how Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's new CEO, is making the company leaner by ending problems that burn too much cash, such as its car leasing program. It's part of the grand preparation plan for Uber's eventual IPO in 2019.

She also went on to talk about Uber and how it's attempting to reshape its culture following the accusations of sexual harassment and the ousting of former CEO Travis Kalanick. "The company needs to stand for something beyond growth," she said, adding that "the worship at the altar of hyper growth" has led to company-wide burnout, which then leads to people acting out in ways they shouldn't. "You then forget to build the culture," she said. "Culture is the immune system of a company [...] When the culture is so driven by growth, there are other consequences."

Yet, she said that even at the lowest moment in the company's history, people still loved the product. "They didn't love the company, but they loved the product," Huffington said. "Now Dara's goal is to get people to love the company, and not just the product."

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