Microsoft believes in second chances — at least for Travis Kalanick.
Less than five years after he stepped down as CEO of Uber amid a string of scandals, Kalanick has reportedly scored an investment from Microsoft for his new company.
The tech giant invested in a November 2021 fundraising round that valued Kalanick’s startup, CloudKitchens, at a whopping $15 billion, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
CloudKitchens reportedly raised a total of $850 million in debt and equity financing from multiple backers in the round, though its unclear exactly how much Microsoft invested.
Microsoft and CloudKitchens did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
CloudKitchens’ business model centers around converting warehouse space into so-called “dark kitchens,” which it then rents out to restaurants. The restaurants save on overhead costs by not offering in-person dining and instead sell their food through delivery apps like Uber Eats and Seamless.
The company reportedly has more than 4,000 employees in the US, UK, Latin America and the Middle East.
“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said at the time.
Kalanick then sold off his stake in Uber and reinvested much of the cash into CloudKitchens.
Yet investors who previously backed Uber have largely steered clear from CloudKitchens — with two notable exceptions.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which gave Uber $3.5 billion in 2016, poured $400 million into CloudKitchens in 2019.
Microsoft, likewise, previously invested $100 million in Uber in 2015 before reportedly becoming CloudKitchens’ first outside US investor in November.
According to the Financial Times, CloudKitchens has struggled from similar cultural issues as Uber. A former senior employee quoted by the outlet described CloudKitchens as “the most toxic place I’ve ever experienced.”
Kalanick isn’t the first scandal-scarred founder to make a comeback this summer.
In August, venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz invested a reported $350 million in a new residential real estate startup run by Adam Neumann, who previously founded WeWork and was accused of encouraging a raucous office culture powered by marijuana and tequila that allegedly fostered sexual harassment.
While Andreessen Horowitz argued that Neumann was “growing from lessons learned” at WeWork, critics pointed to Neumann’s comeback as evidence that “bad behavior” by straight white men is “not only tolerated, but rewarded” in tech.