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Saudi Arabia pours $3.5 billion into Uber

Uber headquarters
A woman leaves Uber headquarters in San Francisco.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Uber said Wednesday that it is getting a massive cash infusion from Saudi Arabia.

The oil-rich nation’s sovereign investment fund is putting $3.5 billion into the global transportation company and will get a seat on Uber’s board of directors.

Funding for new tech companies has been slowing in recent months amid concerns that many startups have been over-valued. But San Francisco-based Uber has been able to raise billions of dollars as it pursues ambitious plans to expand around the world.

Uber says its ride-hailing service now operates in nine countries of the Middle East, one of its fastest-growing markets. In Saudi Arabia, which does not allow women to drive, 80% of Uber passengers are women. 

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The Saudi money is part of a larger round of funding by several investors, which valued Uber at $62.5 billion. The company, which has raised well over $14 billion since its founding in 2009, says it now has more than $11 billion in cash and available credit to fund its expansion.

Yasir Al Rumayyan, the Saudi fund’s managing director, adds to an already politically savvy board of directors at Uber. Media mogul and former political commentator Arianna Huffington became a board member in April. David Plouffe, who ran President Obama’s 2008 campaign, has been on the board for more than a year.

Such connections could be crucial for Uber to fight governments, taxi drivers and other groups worldwide that view the company as a public safety or competitive threat.

Uber’s regional rivals have also reported big investments this year, as on-demand ride services have grown in popularity. 

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Apple recently invested $1 billion in China’s Didi Chuxing. General Motors has put $500 million into San Francisco-based Lyft

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UPDATES:

2:57 p.m.: This article was updated with details about the funding round and with additional background information. 

This article was originally published at 2:49 p.m.

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