If you listen closely, you might be able to hear something that sounds like the continents shifting and grinding together, deep under the earth’s crust. Is there an earthquake coming? No, that’s just the sound of massive piles of cash being moved—the vast sums of money that Uber and its Chinese rival Didi Chuxing are stockpiling for their battle to own the global ride-hailing market.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Uber raised $3.5 billion in financing from the investment fund belonging to Saudi Arabia’s royal family as part of a total financing worth $5 billion, one of the largest funding rounds ever raised by a venture-backed company. That investment brought the total raised by Uber to more than $10 billion, and gave it a theoretical market value of about $62 billion.
Now there are reports that Uber is raising as much as $2 billion more, but this time it is doing so via the debt market, a somewhat more risky endeavor than the equity or venture-capital markets. One reason it may be doing so is to avoid diluting its existing equity value for existing investors, in advance of a possible initial public offering of stock next year. A debt issue of this kind also means it doesn’t have to publicly release its financial information.
Not to be outdone, Didi Chuxing just finished raising $7 billion in funding from a group of investors that includes Apple and China’s top life insurance company. The round consisted of $4.5 billion in equity funding and $2.5 billion in debt, and gives the Uber competitor a theoretical market value of about $28 billion.
But Didi’s strongest card in this rapidly accelerating game of automotive chicken may not be its growing cash hoard. The company, which was created last year by the merger of two competing taxi-hailing apps, also has some extremely powerful local investors—including China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba and its social-networking behemoth Tencent. Both reportedly put money into the latest round, and they clearly have the resources to finance a significant battle. Start your engines.
BITS AND BYTES
Microsoft decries new U.S. rules for how companies must treat contract worries. The software giant is taking aim at a 2015 ruling by the U.S. labor board that expands the definition of “joint employer.” Microsoft is worried that the new policy could make it accountable for the employment conditions for those it hires through staffing agencies and subcontractors. Like many other tech companies, Microsoft uses plenty of part-time and temporary workers to aid with projects—although it doesn’t divulge the exact numbers. Over the past two decades, it has been criticized multiple times for taking advantage of them. (Reuters)
Samsung buys cloud services company. It’s paying an undisclosed sum for Joyent, a well-backed startup that sells access to servers and other computing capacity on demand. The company competes with Microsoft and Amazon Web Services—one reason for Samsung’s takeover is so that it can reduce its dependence on their clouds. This is Samsung’s third notable acquisition in the past two years along with SmartThings, a home automation company, and LoopPay, a developer of mobile payment technologies. (Wall Street Journal)
Airbnb secures another $1 billion in financing. The startup, which facilitates short-term rentals of apartments and homes, has arranged to borrow money from several banks including J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America, reports Bloomberg. The debt is reportedly meant to help finance global expansion and new travel-related services. (Bloomberg)
Google dedicates Swiss research team to machine learning. Zurich is already home to the company’s largest engineering group outside of the United States. A new group there will focus on how machine intelligence can be applied to applications such as natural language processing, translation, and tasks such as image or handwriting recognition. (Fortune)
Average cost of a data breach rises to $4 million. According to research sponsored by IBM, businesses can expect to lose an average of $154 per record when their computer networks or servers are breached. The per-record amount is dramatically higher for certain industries, especially healthcare ($355) and education ($246). Companies that have cybersecurity incidence response teams in place can expect to pay less, about $16 per record. (Fortune)
Snapchat hires Oracle to help prove its ads work. Under the companies’ new partnership, the popular mobile messaging service—which has a reported 150 million daily active users—will use Oracle Data Cloud to help consumer packaged goods companies better link in-store sales to specific advertising campaigns. (Fortune)
At the ripe age of 105, IBM seeks to reinvent itself—again. Say what you will about IBM—and at this point, nearly everything has been said—it is the only tech giant to reach the ripe old age of 105. The company has weathered many a storm since it launched as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911.
IBM has made tabulators, giant disk drives, mainframes, midrange computers, PCs, and associated software. It invented or helped invent the bar code, the magnetic stripe found on credit cards, and the scanning tunneling microscope used in materials science and physics research. In the 1990s, IBM started building a giant IT services business that became the envy of competitors, including Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell.
There have been stumbles along the way, but it has always soldiered on. That’s where its current leader, Ginni Rometty, now into her fourth year as chairman and chief executive officer of IBM, comes in.
At this stage of the game, even dramatic moves like selling off IBM’s server business (again to Lenovo) and divesting its chip fabrication business won’t be enough to ensure its legacy. Rometty has continued to invest in artificial intelligence, or cognitive computing, as exemplified by the always-touted Watson artificial intelligence services as well as IBM’s cloud computing unit.
Rometty herself summed up IBM’s quandary at the recent Code conference in May. “It’s easy to have an act one and two. Go ahead and have an act three, four, and five. The saying is the easy part, the doing is the hard part,” she remarked. IBM proponents say she has placed the right bets. It’s far from clear as to whether they will pay off, reports Fortune senior writer Barb Darrow. (Fortune)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
New lawsuit may deflate Google’s big Internet balloon project
by Jonathan Vanian
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings talks about the ‘stresses of being global’
by Michal Lev-Ram
Most M&As fail, and Microsoft should be worried by Howard Yu
Facebook dominates the news landscape as print continues to crumble
by Mathew Ingram
Mark Zuckerberg is at work with a broken arm by Benjamin Snyder
Get ready for the iPhone 8 ‘super cycle’ by Don Reisinger
The best marketing tool is already in your customers’ hands
by Jeremy Quittner
New GM tech aims to prevent children, pets from dying in hot cars
by Kirsten Korosec
ONE MORE THING
The emoji in your next tweet could trigger an ad. For example, someone posting an image of fries or burgers might be targeted with a message from a fast-food chain. (Fortune)
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.