Clicking on 'Uber Pool' to get home of an evening may save a bit of money but it can also make for a crowded ride home if the cab gets full with additional passengers. One night I found myself miles from home in the back streets of the Isle of Dogs in London helping the driver extract an amorous couple from the cab I'd originally ordered.
Yet pooling is exactly what SoftBank has in mind. My colleague Aliya Ram has revealed that it plans to pool its ride-hailing assets, including stakes in Uber, Ola, Grab, 99 and Didi Chuxing, into the Saudi-backed Vision fund. That would go a long way towards creating a global player in ride hailing apps with the fund seen as the natural home.
The investments have until now been kept separate to the Vision Fund, in part owing to the direct investments in Uber by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned sovereign wealth fund. The move to shift the stakes under one roof is expected within months.
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Something to Tweet About
Twitter flew in the face of Wall Street’s expectations after reporting its second quarterly profit. Last quarter the social media platform reported its first profit in 12 years, but analysts expected it to return to a net loss in the first quarter of this year. Instead, it reported net income of $61m.
Martin Sorrell referred to Google and Facebook as a “digital duopoly” and “frenemies” of WPP. Mark Read, who has filled Sir Martin's boots since his abrupt exit, struck a slightly different tone, saying WPP should be “closer” to the technology companies. “We have to recognise that Amazon, Facebook, Google and the Chinese tech companies are shaking up the industry,” he said.
Sky has dramatically withdrawn its recommendation of a bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox after Comcast made a formal £12.50-a-share offer that values the pan-European media company at £22bn. Sky has become a pawn in a global media power struggle between Comcast, Fox and its future owner Disney.
Having put ZTE on notice, is the Justice Department in the US now eyeing up its Chinese rival Huawei over Iran and sanctions? The WSJ reports that there is an investigation into potential sanctions busting that could be the latest sign of rising stakes in the US-Chinese trade tension. (WSJ)
Massaging the numbers
The job description "programme motivators" - attractive, charming and able to give relaxing massages - doesn't sound very techy, but China's burgeoning tech scene is on the hunt for them. Women are being hired to chat up and calm stressed-out male coders, reports the NYT.
Tech tools you can use - MoviePass
The all-you-can-eat $10 a month MoviePass in the US is actually a pre-paid debit card that recharges with sufficient funds for a movie ticket each time you select a screening in the app. But Tim Bradshaw finds that the hole in MoviePass’s business model is not difficult to identify. Most cinema tickets cost more than $10, so the company loses money on customers who even use MoviePass just once a month. On $10.4m in revenues, it reported an overall $150.8m net loss for last year. Enjoy it while it lasts.
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