Scandals and scrutiny
This year, Uber faced a politically motivated boycott, employee claims of sexism, a high-profile lawsuit over trade-secrets theft, a video published by Bloomberg showing Kalanick berating an Uber driver and questions about his business tactics. The unwanted attention has brought intense government scrutiny. The U.S. Justice Department was exploring at least five criminal probes in recent months, and London moved to ban the service.
Khosrowshahi is looking to quickly move past a disastrous 2017. He replaced the company’s legal chief, ousted the head of security who oversaw some of the most controversial projects and hired the former CEO of Orbitz to run operations. However, more ghosts of Uber’s past continue to emerge. In November, Bloomberg reported on a hack from a year earlier that exposed data on 57 million people and that Uber paid a ransom to keep the breach quiet.
For SoftBank, the deal will make founder Masayoshi Son an influential investor across the ride-hailing sector. He will hold stakes in five of the world’s biggest startups, including the market leaders in China, India, Southeast Asia, Brazil and the U.S. SoftBank earlier this month took part in Didi Chuxing’s fundraising, adding to an earlier $5.5 billion investment in the company.
SoftBank-backed startups compete with each other in several key markets. Son may use his influence to encourage mergers among the competitors in certain countries.