Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund has pumped $400 million into Travis Kalanick’s new company CloudKitchens, according to people familiar with the situation, in a deal that could value the operator of so-called ghost kitchens at about $5 billion and reunites the former Uber Technologies Inc. chief with one of his biggest backers.
The Saudi fund’s agreement with CloudKitchens was completed in January, the people said. It was the fund’s first known deal in Silicon Valley since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, the people said, a killing that sparked global outrage and nixed several would-be investments.
CloudKitchens is a bet on the food-delivery boomlet. It buys cheap or rundown real estate, often near city centers, where it builds commissary kitchens—also known as ghost kitchens—that it rents to restaurants wanting to prepare food exclusively for delivery services like Grubhub Inc. and DoorDash Inc.
CloudKitchens also operates its own delivery-only restaurants in the commissaries, with names like Excuse My French Toast, Egg the F* Out, and B*tch Don’t Grill My Cheese.