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Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via Reuters
Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.
CLOSE AT HAND

Here are the apps you use every day that are backed by Saudi money

By Hanna Kozlowska

With the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the world’s eyes are turned to Saudi Arabia and its ruling royal family, who are suspected of ordering his assassination earlier this month.

Beyond its strong ties to the United States government, Saudi Arabia’s oil riches have allowed the country to invest in Japanese conglomerate SoftBank’s Vision Fund, which has recently created a revolution in Silicon Valley startup funding. The Saudis already invested $45 billion in the $100 billion fund, and plan to double that amount, announced crown prince Mohammed bin Salman just earlier this month, in an interview with Bloomberg (paywall).

As others have pointed out (paywall), Saudi Arabia’s allies in the West, and the companies it invests in, have all but ignored the country’s record of human rights abuses and its contributions to climate change. But Khashoggi’s disappearance seems to be different, and is already creating tension between the Saudi funders and their Silicon Valley recipients. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has pulled out, for example, from the Future Investment Initiative, a key conference to be hosted by the Saudis later this month.

SoftBank became the largest shareholder in Uber earlier this year. Here’s a likely non-exhaustive list of companies that SoftBank’s Vision Fund has backed, per Recode’s tally in June.

Popular apps

Uber: ride-sharing
Doordash: food delivery
Wag: dog-walking
Slack: workplace chat

E-commerce

Flipkart: India’s largest e-commerce marketplace
One97 Communications (Paytm): Indian e-commerce payment system
Fanatics: sports e-commerce (runs online sales for the NBA and NFL)

Hardware

ARM Holdings: chipmaker
Nvidia: computer graphics chipmaker

Software

Brain Corp.: software developer for robots used in retail
Improbable: video-game software

Transportation

GM Cruise: driverless cars
Nauto: driverless technology provider
Auto1: German online car dealer

Health

Ping An Healthcare and Technology: Chinese online medical platform
Roivant: drug developer
Vir: biotech startup targeting infectious diseases
Guardant Health: oncology startup

Other

OneWeb: satellite internet provider
WeWork: co-working space provider
Plenty: vertical farm startup
Mapbox: makes custom online maps
OYO: Indian hotel-booking startup
SoFi: personal finance company, known for refinancing student loans
ZhongAn: Chinese online insurance company
Katerra: construction startup
Compass: real-estate tech platform

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