Japanese investment giant Softbank is keen to buy into either Uber or Lyft to make further inroads into the fast-expanding ride-hailing market in the world. Speaking to investors after announcing SoftBank s Q1 2017 earnings, founder Mayoshi Son said that his company was “interested” in a taxi aggregator in the US a market that is currently missing in SoftBank’s ride-sharing portfolio, given it is majorly invested in India’s Ola, China’s Didi Chuxing, Southeast Asia’s Grab, and Brazil’s 99. “We haven t decided which way, but [the] U.S. is a very big market… Whether we decide to partner and invest into Uber or Lyft, I don t know what will be the end result,” Son reportedly told investors. Also Read - Uber cab service resumed in 31 cities in India with new Lockdown 4.0 guidelinesAlso Read - Uber launches 'Uber Connect' package delivery service to rival Dunzo and Swiggy Genie
This comes a few weeks after a WSJ report claimed that SoftBank was keen to buy a multi-billion dollar (“commanding”) stake in Uber. The San Francisco-based ride-hailing company has raised $12 billion so far and is one of the most valuable ($60 billion) startups in the world. SoftBank most recently invested $2 billion in the Singapore-headquartered Grab that is Uber’s primary rival in Southeast Asia. As Uber increases its investments and operations in India, its rivals are looking to secure their foothold in other markets. ALSO READ: Grab raises $2 billion from SoftBank and Didi Chuxing: Report Also Read - Uber to operate 'Essential' cab service to hospitals and pharmacy stores in 4 cities
In China, for instance, Uber has been ousted by Didi Chuxing and had to sell its Chinese operations to the competitor. Didi too is backed by SoftBank. And Grab, in turn, is backed by Didi. SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund is actively backing startups that have the potential to impact millions of lives across the globe. For Uber, a SoftBank investment is good credit and support at a time when the company is mired in controversies, and is also tasked with finding a replacement for Travis Kalanick the enfant terrible of Silicon Valley. Plus, as Uber focuses its attention on India, where it has completed 500 million trips, it could possibly slip from its position of strength in other markets. ALSO READ: Uber continues to be aggressive in India, invests Rs 51.64 crore for expansion: Report
For Lyft, which is Uber’s biggest rival in the US, Japanese capital that has great value in investment circles is a great proposition. Lyft is aggressively expanding in the US and currently servicing close to 40 million users. It has started operations in 131 new cities in 2017 alone. Following allegations of sexism and harassment at Uber, hordes of Americans started the #DeleteUber movement that led to a spurt in Lyft’s user-growth. In no uncertain terms, Lyft has been the biggest beneficiary of Uber’s recent troubles. A SoftBank deal at this stage will send it to fourth gear and leave Uber with plenty to worry about.