Uber’s Partially “Undisclosed” Ton of Money

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The Timeline of Billions.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, announced that it’s making a “strategic investment” in Uber.

The two companies have inked a memorandum of understanding “to explore collaboration, starting with trials, in the world of ridesharing in countries where ridesharing is expanding, taking various factors into account such as regulations, business conditions, and customer needs.”

And it comes with some serious bucks, presumably, courtesy of Toyota Financial Services Corporation and Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership.

So they will “create new leasing options” for Uber drivers – presumably for the remaining years before they’re being replaced by self-driving cars, on which both companies are also furiously working, as is everyone else. The idea is that Uber drivers will be able to lease Toyotas from Toyota Financial Services “and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers.” And this:

Toyota and Uber also will explore collaboration in a variety of other areas, such as developing in-car apps that support Uber drivers, sharing knowledge and accelerating their respective research efforts, and establishing a special fleet program to sell Toyota and Lexus vehicles to Uber drivers.

Uber said in a statement to TechCrunch, “We are proud to partner with Toyota in a variety of ways, including the expansion of our vehicle financing program.”

There was a lot more feel-good corporate blah-blah-blah, but the one thing everyone wants to know, the dollar amount of the investment, was not disclosed.

So how much money has Uber picked up so far from investors?

We don’t know because the amounts in some of the last rounds were not disclosed, but it has turned into a huge kitty, even if the exact number of billions remains vague.

This interactive chart depicts the timeline, the amounts (unless “undisclosed”), the investors such as VC firms or corporate entities like Baidu (unless “undisclosed”), and the types of funding. Click on the arrow on the right of the graphic to pull up the next slide. At the end, see if you could keep track of the billions:

If I counted right, Uber picked up $7.8 billion of disclosed amounts plus the undisclosed amounts via 16 rounds from 23 investors: venture capital firms, corporate investors like Baidu, private equity firms, hedge funds, family offices, mutual funds, and other types of investors – not yet including the Toyota deal, which is just a Memorandum of Understanding at this point.

With all this money to blow, and the corporate backers to help Uber move in different directions, successfully or not, Uber has the ability to run over taxi companies – most of which are fairly small enterprises compared to Uber – shred city, state, and national regulations around the world that govern taxis, settle numerous legal challenges, and do whatever else it might want to do, all without breaking a financial sweat. Billions can blow open a lot of doors.

So why even bother with an IPO – and expose yourself to the public and regulatory scrutiny that come along with it? A tricky question. While Toyota, Baidu, and other strategic investors may have other priorities than maximizing their return on investment, VCs, PE firms, hedge funds, and mutual funds do not. They eventually want to get their money out and realize their hoped-for mega-profits.

The auto industry and the industries supporting it are crucial to the US economy and jobs. It accounts for a good part of US manufacturing. Auto sales make up 21% of retail sales. They’re up 4.5% year-over-year, after a record 2015, even as the rest of brick-and-mortar retail was weak. All of it has been booming for years! But when the flow of money slows, the entire growth machine starts grinding down. Pressures are already building up. Read…  What Will Sink the US Auto Boom?

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  9 comments for “Uber’s Partially “Undisclosed” Ton of Money

  1. chris hauser
    May 25, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    i got a letter from uber saying i could join and make 340 bucks a weekend.

    i don’t know why they think i would want to work for them, but it might be they think i need the money.

    they say there are 55000 drivers in washington dc working with them.

    given that there are 600000 residents, i’d say they are exaggerating. why anybody thinks a gypsy cab app can’t be replicated is beyond me.

    but it is a great idea, i’ll give them that.

  2. wholy1
    May 25, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Two two-word simple tests to Truth:
    1) cui bono – who benefits / follow the financial benefit
    2) test access – problem, reaction, solution
    a) instigate the “event” (the TEST)
    b) study the reaction (ACCESS)
    c) offer the “solution”

  3. Bobby Corsica
    May 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    In a related statement, Toyota also announced a patent for Velcro seating and carpets for the over-served segment of Uber’s ridership.

  4. BoyfromTottenam
    May 25, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Hi from Oz. Personally, I wonder where these ‘disruptive’ business models will lead us – to Nirvana, or just Anarchy? As a semi-retired old geezer I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but I have studied enough history to know that things can go either way, depending for instance on how governments react. Think of the law of unintended consequences…

  5. Bruce Adlam
    May 25, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    I’ve done a little bit of Uber over the last 12 months it could never be my full time job It doesn’t pay enough and you have very little control.Its just another form of cheap labour by the time you take out your costs most of the time it’s not worth it.

  6. Valuationguy
    May 26, 2016 at 9:37 am


    And there you have the entire reason why…..Uber (and the other tech unicorns) are signaling that the money from VC’s/PE’s are too nervous to add more cash to the Uber cash-blowing furnace. With no more cash sources…they need to turn to the dumbest investors of them all (retail) to try and get one more infusion (and get their partners in crime – the silicon valley VC/PE firms- paid off) so the Uber executives can get their own payout and ensure that the VC/PE firms will at least be receptive to their next pitch.

    When sentiment turns….hide where internally generated cash flow can ensure perpetuity of the business.

    Question: With specific reference to Uber….does the pay actually cover all your expenses….which includes gas, car maintenance, depreciation, and BUSINESS insurance (as your personal auto policy typically isn’t going to cover taxi service/ride-sharing trips – i.e. one accident and your screwed). If so, after taking out these expenses (per mile)….how much are you actually profiting from your labor?

  7. JimTan
    May 26, 2016 at 11:32 am

    My guess on the origin of this undisclosed money, based on the new car leases of its 200,000 or so employees, is every automaker that manufactures in the U.S.

  8. JimTan
    May 26, 2016 at 11:33 am

    also the banks that provided the leases.

Comments are closed.