You would probably imagine that Uber has enough money, but after receiving what the Financial Times says is the “largest single investment ever made in a public company,” the ride-hailing firm is now $3.5 billion richer.
As part of its latest round of funding, the world’s most valuable tech startup received the money from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. It brings Uber’s total balance of cash and convertible debt up to $11 billion, but its current value of $62.5 billion remains the same.
Uber has had a presence in Saudi Arabia since 2014. The company announced last year that it would put $250 million toward expanding its operations in the Middle East, where it operates in 15 cities across nine countries. The company has around 395,000 active riders in the region, a 500 percent increase from a year ago, and 19,000 drivers.
The deal will see Yasir Al Rumayyan, managing director of the Public Investment Fund, take a seat on Uber’s board.
“We appreciate the vote of confidence in our business as we continue to expand our global presence,” Uber founder Travis Kalanick said in a statement. “Our experience in Saudi Arabia is a great example of how Uber can benefit riders, drivers, and cities and we look forward to partnering to support their economic and social reforms.”
The Saudi investment supports the country’s Vision 2030 plan to reduce dependency on oil and oil-related industries. It also aims to bring 1.3 million women into the workforce by 2030 - not an easy task in a country where women are prohibited from driving.
Becuase of the driving restriction, 80 percent of Uber’s riders in Saudi Arabia are female. It’s expected that the company's expansion in the area will provide a way for more women to get around easier.
"We’ve seen first-hand how this company has improved urban mobility around the world and we’re looking forward to being part of that progress," said Al Rumayyan.