Uber is planning on holding an initial public offering in 2019, the company's recently appointed Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said while speaking at the Thursday New York Times’ DealBook conference. The 48-year-old's remarks were in line with his previous comments on the matter given when he was appointed as Uber CEO in August, having originally said that he's targeting an IPO by 2020. His Thursday appearance saw him suggest Uber is facing a level of scrutiny comparable to the one of a public company while enjoying no benefits of such a status, citing that as the main reason for speeding up the firm's IPO plans.
Mr. Khosrowshahi also reflected on Uber's recent talks with SoftBank that has been pushing for a massive investment in the startup as part of the largest private stock purchase ever made, noting how the company's IPO-related ambitions will in no way affect the possible deal with the Japanese tech giant. Given SoftBank's recent moves, Uber's plan to go public in the near future is presumably seen as a plus by the conglomerate whose Vision Fund is specifically targeting so-called "unicorns," private startups whose valuations are north of $1 billion and which would allow investors to cash out with an IPO even if they don't fulfill their maximum potential. Being valued at nearly $70 billion, Uber certainly fits that bill, though part of the reason for its negotiations with SoftBank being prolonged is its valuation, with the Japanese suitor pushing for a significant discount on many of its shares that could potentially drive down the perceived value of Uber's business.
SoftBank's talks with Uber are also dragging on because the former remains adamant to limit the powers of ex-CEO Travis Kalanick who still holds a seat at the ride-hailing firm's board while controlling many others. This effort reportedly generated a tense dynamic between Mr. Kalanick and SoftBank to the point that the latter may even be prepared to back out of the deal altogether and go with its original plan of establishing a foothold in the U.S. ride-hailing market by investing in Lyft. As evidenced by the recently failed merger negotiations between SoftBank's Sprint and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile, the Japanese company has no issues with pulling out of any deal if it isn't happy with the level of control it allows it over its investment, regardless of any value it could generate. Mr. Kalanick's previous comments on the matter suggested that an IPO isn't something he sees as a priority, though it's still unclear whether he would formally oppose such a move.