It's been a moment since we checked in on our old pal, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
The last we'd heard was that Travis was pretty pissy about not being able to ring the bell at Uber's IPO, which in retrospect appears to have been a case of saving him from himself. But by spending the last few years not being in the headlines for doing anything dumb, Kalanick [and -let's face it- Adam Neumann] has made it easier to forget all the dumb stuff he did that got him booted from his own multi-billion dollar startup.
But you know who appears to have already totally forgotten about Kalanick's 'non-victories'? The Saudis! Remember when they poured $3.5 billion into Travis' version of never-going-public Uber back in 2016? Well, according to the WSJ, despite all that occurred afterward, the money guys of the House of Saud remain rather thirsty for those Kalanickian brain droppings:
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund has pumped $400 million into Travis Kalanick’s new company CloudKitchens, according to people familiar with the situation, in a deal that could value the operator of so-called ghost kitchens at about $5 billion and reunites the former Uber Technologies Inc. chief with one of his biggest backers.
Reunions. We love 'em! This is a nice story...
The Saudi fund’s agreement with CloudKitchens was completed in January, the people said. It was the fund’s first known deal in Silicon Valley since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, the people said, a killing that sparked global outrage and nixed several would-be investments.
Oh shit...right. That.
Well, at least Travis seems to be a different guy. $400 million is couch cushion money for Kalanick, and this new startup of his feels a little under-the-radar, which is another nice change for The K Man...
CloudKitchens is a bet on the food-delivery boomlet. It buys cheap or rundown real estate, often near city centers, where it builds commissary kitchens—also known as ghost kitchens—that it rents to restaurants wanting to prepare food exclusively for delivery services like Grubhub Inc. and DoorDash Inc.
Leveraging inefficiencies in the commercial real estate market to find opportunities t in the services sector that he helped pioneer on what's essentially an office sharing platform that will threaten brick and mortar restaurants? Travis, baby, you back!
But let's not get carried away with pulling what we used to call "A Real Kalanick" and now refer to as "The Full Neumann" by raising billions of dollars that you intend to burn on bad growth ideas. And let's definitely not go giving names to anything like last time. You're very bad at that...
CloudKitchens also operates its own delivery-only restaurants in the commissaries, with names like Excuse My French Toast, Egg the F* Out, and B*tch Don’t Grill My Cheese.
Yeah, you're very bad at this.
Congrats on the Saudi money though, it's nice to be back in the news for all the right reasons.