Softbank is part of a consortium in talks for a minority stake that is expected to value the autonomous auto business at between $5bn and $10bn. The plans aren't finalised and could fall apart.
The Journal described the "late-stage" talks as fluid, with the possibility a deal might not be reached.
Uber's initial public offering is said to to be one of the biggest of the year, at a $120 billion valuation, a major jump from its current valuation at $72 billion. Next month, Uber will issue its required public disclosure, known as an S-1, and launch its investor roadshow, the people said.
During the same month, the company's Vision Fund also allocated $1 billion to freight transportation startup Flexport, casting a net around not just self-driving cars but all innovation in software-powered transportation. Uber assembled the early team by pillaging a Carnegie Mellon lab, which sparked a backlash in the academic community. While the businesses are quite a bit different both in terms of scale and complexity, Lyft is easily the closest competitor and market equivalent to Uber.
After losing about $3.3 billion past year, Uber is hoping to bring a change in the automobile industry by introducing self-driven cars. But he has indicated a desire to continue developing autonomous cars in the hope that Uber will lead the way to a possible future where robots replace human drivers. Toyota, in addition to pursuing its own research and development in autonomy, past year invested $500 million into Uber's self-driving division.
The news also comes at the heels of SoftBank's aggressive strategy of heavily investing in AV programs across the industry.
It's a somewhat curious bet for SoftBank.
Uber's Advanced Technologies Group is leading the ride-hailing company's efforts to develop its own self-driving technology, putting it in competition with Google spin-off Waymo and General Motors' Cruise.