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Saudi Arabia’s Wealth Fund PIF Invests $400m in Ex-Uber Chief’s Startup


TechInAfrica — A sovereign wealth fund based in Saudi Arabia, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has invested $400 million into Uber founder Travis Kalanick’s new company, CloudKitchens, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The investment values the ghost kitchen company at about $5 billion. It is also reported that one of the biggest investments Saudi has made in a single startup. CloudKitchens was founded by Kalanick soon after he was resigned from Uber. According to the Wall Street Journal, Kalanick pumped $300 million of his own money into the establishment of the startup, using earnings from the sale of his Uber shares.

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Kalanick is counting big on the recently fast growth of the food delivery space. Described as ghosts, cloud, or dark kitchens, these commissary kitchens are rented out to restaurants or virtual food brands to produce food for delivery only. So far, the company has locations in China, India, the UK, and US, while at the same time also operating its own delivery only restaurants.

Suggested read: Uber to Launch its Food Delivery App ( Ubereats ) in Cairo and Riyadh

Globally, Reef Technology, which has raised investment from SoftBank Group ( a fund comprising $45 billion from PIF ) and Kitchen United backed by Google Ventures, has also attracted large ticket sizes in the business.

Recently, several cloud kitchens in the UAE have emerged. Such companies are including Kitopi, Food To Go, OneKitchen, iKcon, and Kitchen Nation. According to a report by Statista, so far this year, revenues for online food delivery have surpassed $2.8 billion across the Middle East and North Africa ( MENA ) region, with as many as 32 percent of operators attributing more than a quarter of their revenue to delivery.

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