If you ask someone that follows the rideshare gig economy which is the biggest company, you might get Uber or Didi as an answer. In reality, both are large, but SoftBank is larger. This Japanese investment banking company has its hand in every ridesharing company pie as well as in most leading autonomous vehicle projects too.
Here is a list of SoftBank’s investments and how far their global control really reaches.
* Uber sharahlders received this investment as part of a Softbank buyout of holdings to increase its share to 15%
As you can see, SoftBank has its hand in Uber, Ola, Grab and Didi, making it the worlds largest rideshare holding company. All that is missing is Lyft and Taxify to complete the picture. SoftBank’s presence is felt on every continent, and it even has companies competing against each other such as Uber and Ola in India. Although, after its last investment in Uber, SoftBank’s two new Uber board members are pushing Uber to leave Asia and concentrate on Europe and North America. SoftBank’s Uber directors are the Head of its $100 billion Vision Fund, Rajeev Misra, and President and CEO of Sprint Corporation, Marcelo Claure.
There are two reasons that SoftBank has positioned itself in this sector. The first is to sort out the destructive competition, trying to make sense of a global situation and maximizing income for specific markets through one large local presence, such as Didi in China, Grab in Singapore and other parts of Asia, Uber in Europe and North America. SoftBank will try to pull Uber out of India, leaving that market to Ola. Africa and South America are still an issue to contend with although SoftBank’s investment in Brazil’s 99 sorted this issue out. Didi is expanding into Mexico, which stops Uber’s drive south. The Middle East is still an open territory with Estonia’s Taxify taking the initiative.
The second reason is Uber and Didi’s huge investments in autonomous vehicle technology and the future of driverless transportation. While the car making industry is its main competitor, since GM intends to set up its own AV rideshare division, while JLR (Tata), Volvo, Ford, and others are taking sides with either Uber or other rideshare companies. The future is yet uncertain on how the driverless car will share the competing market for the brand, make, model and rideshare company control.
While Travis Kalanick might have dreamt of global domination, reality dictates that he enjoys his $1.4 billion income from selling 35% of his holdings, and leaving the world domination business in more capable hands, such as SoftBank’s.