And the hits keep coming for the unicornest unicorn in all of unicorn-land...
First, for those hoping for a 'return of the king' moment, Recode reports that Travis Kalanick is not coming back as CEO of Uber. That's according to board member Garrett Camp, who sent an email to employees yesterday, addressing recent reports that Kalanick was “Steve Jobs-ing it” and attempting a comeback; the Uber board is said to have narrowed down its search for a replacement to four people.
Second, the hot money is flowing to Uber's rivals. Reuters reports that DiDi Chuxing, China's largest ride-hailing firm, has invested in Middle East online taxi service Careem in a new partnership deal that marks Didi's latest international expansion against rival Uber. DiDi is seeking to turn up the heat on ride-sharing pioneer Uber via a string of partnerships with regional players in Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa and now the Middle East. It has previously done similar deals in Latin America as well as with Uber's U.S. rival Lyft.
Third, WSJ reports that Uber plans to wind down its U.S. subprime car-leasing division to stem unsustainably high losses, according to people familiar with the matter, a major retreat just two years after starting the business. The ride-hailing company is aiming to close out or sell most of the business by year-end, these people said. As many as 500 jobs could be affected by the exit of the Xchange Leasing program, representing roughly 3% of Uber’s 15,000-employee staff.
Uber executives were prompted to pull the plug on the auto-leasing unit in part because they recently came to a stunning realization: The average loss per vehicle was about 18 times what they had thought.
The Xchange Leasing division had been estimating modest losses of around $500 per auto on average, these people said. But managers recently informed Uber executives that the losses were actually about $9,000 per car--about half the sticker price of a typical leased vehicle.
And finally, and more critically, it appears Uber is about to face a massive down-round of financing. Reports from last month indicated SoftBank was considering buying shares of Uber from Benchmark, an early investor in the ridehailing giant. Now, The Information has reported some specifics of the would-be deal: The transaction would value Uber at between $40 billion and $45 billion, a major drop from the estimated $68 billion valuation it reached last year.
But apart from that, everything is fine.