Silicon Valley’s relationship with an undemocratic regime that has a troubling human rights record is in the spotlight.
President Donald Trump has spoken out about it. Lawmakers are debating ways to stop the flow of money and data between the two.
The adversary in this cross-border drama is China, which has raised alarm bells in the US as it bulks up its homegrown tech industry and arouses suspicion of spying and influence.
However, there’s much less fuss about the cozy ties between another repressive foreign power and Silicon Valley.
Saudi Arabia’s presence in Silicon Valley is greater than it’s ever been.
That became especially clear on Thursday when Uber filed its IPO paperwork. We learned from the S-1 filing that the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund owns 5.2% of the ride-sharing company.
The figure might actually under-count Saudi Arabia’s influence within Uber. Softbank, the Japanese tech conglomerate, owns a 16.3% stake in Uber through its Softbank Vision Fund. The biggest investor in the Vision Fund is Saudi Arabia, which contributed $45 billion of the fund’s massive $100 billion bankroll.