SoftBank CEO Threatens to Invest in Lyft Instead of Uber

AP Photo
The Associated Press

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son suggested he was considering investing in Lyft instead during ongoing negotiations with Uber over a potential sale of shares, according to a report.

Vanity Fair reports that the company planned “a sale of 14 to 20 percent of Uber’s shares to Japanese tech firm SoftBank, but with Uber shareholders and SoftBank C.E.O. Masayoshi Son haggling over dollars and cents, Son has upped his leverage by threatening to invest in Uber’s domestic rival.”

During a Monday quarterly earnings call, Son claimed to be “positively exploring the opportunity, but whether we make an investment or not—I don’t want you to call me a cheater or a liar.”

“And so I say that it depends on the terms, and you never know what will happen. So depending on the price and the terms, we might change the entity that we would invest in to Lyft,” he declared, adding that terms included “buying out from existing investors, and maybe existing investors don’t want to sell. And if we can’t accept the price, maybe we might have a different decision.”

Just last week, it was reported that Uber was attempting to drive the pricing up in their deal with SoftBank, which was supposed to close the week prior.

“The big question: Is the multi-billion dollar deal in which SoftBank is trying to acquire 14 percent to 20 percent of the ride-hailing company in trouble? Or is the slowdown just routine haggling over dollars and cents?” asked Recode in an article on the tension. “According to people with knowledge of the process, it’s mostly the latter, with the main stumbling block still revolving around price.”

At a conference on Wednesday, SoftBank Chief Dealmaker Jeff Housenbold announced, “We’re very valuation sensitive. We’ve walked away from a number of deals recently because we didn’t like the valuation.”

Despite this, Housenbold added, “In the grand scheme of things, if we have a belief that this could be the next $400-billion company, arguing over a pre-money valuation of $1.8 billion or $1.9 billion isn’t really that relevant to us.”

Charlie Nash is a reporter for Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter @MrNashington and Gab @Nash, or like his page at Facebook.