By Britt Terrell
Uber missed out on a reported $3 billion infusion from Warren Buffett, who wanted to invest in the ride-hailing company, but it may still benefit from Buffett's apparent willingness to back Uber's chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi.
The deal fell apart, Bloomberg reported, because the two sides couldn't agree on how much control Uber would give up to Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Even without the cash, the billionaire investor's interest in Uber gives the company a much-needed endorsement as Khosrowshahi plots his course toward an initial public offering late next year.
"He really believed in Khosrowshahi, and what he's doing to try to turn the company around, change its image," said Curbed's senior reporter Patrick Sisson about Buffett's interest. "I think at a time reminiscent of his investment in Goldman Sachs in 2008, he sees a company turning around and he thinks its a good time to make an investment."
Since Khosrowshahi took over as CEO from Travis Kalanick last August, he has tried to improve Uber's culture, hone business practices, rehabilitate the company's image, and focus on areas of the business that he says matter most to the company's longterm prospects. He has appeared in a television ad, and overseen the roll out of a new app specifically for drivers that includes a 24-hour helpline. The app is a direct response to long-standing complaints from drivers.
"These are great things, but these are things drivers have been asking about for years, " Sisson said. "At the end of the day, drivers just want to get paid more."
How Khosrowshahi handles these and other challenges will determine if he is able to achieve his goal of making Uber the "Amazon of transportation," as he said this week at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and take it public in late 2019.
For the full interview, click here.