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Morning Report: Uber’s Danish Retreat

Morning Report: Uber is leaving Denmark next month after a new law made its service untenable.

It’s a busy morning in tech today, with Tencent snagging 5 percent of Tesla, sending shares in the latter company up, and Facebook copying Snapchat again, sending shares in the latter app’s parent company down.

But most noticeable of all is yet another setback for Uber, the most valuable unicorn, and troubled ridesharing giant. Here’s TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas:

Uber says is will pull out of Denmark next month, on April 18, after the government agreed [to] a new taxi law that introduces additional requirements such as mandatory fare meters and seat sensors. […]

Uber has already faced challenges in Denmark, with its European business indicted in a Danish court last December on charges of assisting two drivers of breaking local taxi laws.

Regulators and judges in other European markets have also caused Uber to reverse course.

It was just over a week ago that our own Jason Rowley wrote a detailed listing of Uber’s recent troubles, covering the quick exit of its president over cultural issues, its internal sexual harassment allegations, the removal of an executive for past sexual harassment allegations, its greyball program, the lawsuit filed against it by Alphabet’s subsidiary Waymo, and more.

Until recently, Uber was viewed as unstoppable around Silicon Valley: Surely the wager to expand use of its driver pool to handle other forms of commerce, like deliveries, will bear out. And, of course, the company is moving towards self-driving car technology anyway, so its staggerings short-term losses are immaterial, right? And with unlimited capital at its behest, why sweat it either way?

Uber could still pull off one of the most interesting business stories in decades. But the ridesharing company has lost its sheen of invincibility, and soon enough, it won’t operate its normal service in Denmark.

I raise all of that to ask, perhaps again, how we should value Uber today. Typical estimates of its worth vary from the low $60 billions to just around $70 billion. Our unicorn leaderboard puts the figure at $62.5 billion, fueled by $8.6 billion in equity funding.

Uber is worth something, certainly, but I wonder if that is still the correct number.

Today in the Crunchbase Daily:

Musk launches Neuralink to link computers, brains

  • Apparently running Tesla and SpaceX isn’t enough for Elon Musk. The tech mogul has reportedly launched a new company called Neuralink through which computers could merge with human brains. The startup will focus on “neural lace” technology, which involves implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day download thoughts.

Didi weighs $6B SoftBank investment

  • Chinese ride-hailing market leader Didi Chuxing is considering taking a $6 billion investment backed by Softbank, according to a Bloomberg report citing unnamed sources. The investment could potentially dilute other existing backers such as Apple and Tencent.

Early stage SaaS rounds hold steady

  • Early stage investment in software-as-a-service companies has held steady in recent quarters, in advance of a pickup in IPO and acquisition activity this year. Series A and B rounds tagged were essentially flat year-over-year in 2016, according to a Crunchbase News analysis. Overall, Series A rounds ticked up slightly while Series B fundings fell a bit.
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