Nov 7, 2019

Saudis pump $400 million into former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's startup

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

CloudKitchens, a startup founded by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, has raised $400 million from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: CloudKitchens was the Saudi fund's first known deal in Silicon Valley since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year and was completed in January. Several companies backed away from doing business with Saudi Arabia in the immediate aftermath of Khashoggi's death, but as Axios' Dan Primack notes, there has been no fundamental change. The sovereign wealth fund is Uber's fifth-largest outside shareholder.

Go deeper: The power of authoritarian hush money

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Uber CEO backtracks after calling Saudi murder of Khashoggi "a mistake"

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told "Axios on HBO" that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "a mistake" by the Saudi government, and then he compared it to Uber's self-driving accident in which a woman died.

Khosrowshahi tweeted Monday: "There's no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a “mistake.” As I told @danprimack after our interview, I said something in the moment I don't believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I'm sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 11, 2019

CEOs' allergy to geopolitics

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If CEOs are the new politicians, many of them don't seem to have thought carefully about foreign policy — particularly about working with autocratic regimes.

Why it matters: Corporate America continues to do business with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who allegedly oversaw the beheading of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and to court business in places like China and Turkey.

Go deeperArrowNov 12, 2019

Uber CEO apologizes to employees for Khashoggi comments

Photo: Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi apologized to employees Tuesday after his interview with "Axios on HBO" garnered immense criticism over his suggestion that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "a mistake" by the Saudi government, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: After the interview, during which Khosrowshahi compared Khashoggi's murder to the death of a woman in a self-driving Uber accident, he called Axios' Dan Primack to express regret for the language he used. He later provided an official statement disavowing the comments and apologized on Twitter, but not before the interview sparked the hashtag #BoycottUber.

Go deeperArrowNov 12, 2019