Briefing

Saudi sovereign wealth fund makes first known Silicon Valley investment since Khashoggi killing

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The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) put US$400 million into CloudKitchens, ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s new firm that builds kitchens and rents them to restaurants that prepare food exclusively for delivery services. Meanwhile, the U.S. has charged two former Twitter employees and one Saudi national with spying for the kingdom. (Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 put a temporary halt on Saudi money pouring into Silicon Valley—a group of prominent CEOs, including Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi, pulled out from the country’s annual investment event that month—but the freeze didn’t last. The kingdom had poured an estimated US$6.2 billion into the tech hub between 2013 and 2018, including four investments in the sector from the PIF. Ostensibly soured diplomatic relations between the countries—which could become more fraught following yesterday’s lawsuit against the ex-Twitter workers—have been offset by U.S. President Donald Trump’s support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the countries’ enduring business ties over U.S. interest in Saudi oil—a connection that’s outlived everything from the 1973 oil embargo to last year’s murder.