With Prince Alwaleed bin Talal arrested, Saudi’s tech ambitions took a nosedive

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Just over one week ago, Saudi Arabian royalty paraded titans of Silicon Valley and Wall Street through the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh as part of a flashy showcase of the nation’s seriousness about global investing.

This week, King Salman, the country’s leader, arrested eleven Saudi princes in an anticorruption probe that most prominently claimed Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is one of his nation’s most visible tech investors. Alwaleed, the chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company, is one of the faces of Saudi tech investing: As of last year he owned 35 million shares of Twitter and with his company owned 5.3% of the ride-hail startup Lyft, a stake he acquired in part by purchasing existing shares from Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund.

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The arrests come at a precious time for Saudi Arabia: The country is desperately trying to diversify its investments away from oil. So the nation is marketing itself as the next major global tech player, pouring in $45 billion from its Public Investment Fund into a $100 billion tech fund organized by SoftBank. And that’s just the beginning: The Saudi war chest will grow next year when the nation’s state oil company, Aramco, goes public — money that could immediately be invested in U.S. tech.

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Time will tell how the events will play out.

Source Credit: Recode
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