Wamda Capital chairman: Uber-Careem deal shows digital economy is here to stay

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The Uber-Careem megadeal has shown that the region is ready for big investments and that the digital economy is here to stay, Chairman and CEO of Wamda Capital Fadi Ghandour told Al Arabiya English.

“It also says to local family offices and investors that the digital economy is happening, it’s investable and that it’s an asset-class you should look at and invest in,” Ghandour said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in Jordan’s Dead Sea region.

“It will also show the ecosystem in general, that when you’re generous with your stock option plan and a lot of employees are going to make a lot of money, that’ how you attract talent not only because they are going to feel like they are part of building something new, but that they’re going to be rewarded at the end of the day,” Ghandour added.

Late last month, Uber said it would pay $1.4 billion in cash and $1.7 billion in convertible notes in a deal that gives it full ownership of Careem. The long-expected agreement ends more than nine months of start-and-stop negotiations between the two companies and hands Uber a much-needed victory after a series of overseas divestments.

In 2014, Ghandour launched Wamda Capital, a venture capital firm focusing on investing in early-stage technology start-ups in the region.

Uber’s acquisition of Careem marks the first substantial exit for Venture Capitals (VCs) in the region, including Wamda Capital, STC Ventures, BECO and STV to name a few.

“I think with this exit and with the big returns that they are going to see, they will get off the fence and start looking at investing in this space. So I am optimistic about that one,” Ghandour said.

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