Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is putting on the Future Investment Initiative, a three-day conference that starts October 23. The event was set to host a star-studded roster of speakers and attendees, but many have withdrawn over concerns about Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the afternoon of October 2. The Turkish government believes Khashoggi, who was often critical of the Saudi regime, has been murdered, an allegation Saudi officials have denied.
The events surrounding the conference are symbolic of a larger moral struggle for businesses that have received funding from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund. The sovereign wealth fund has directly backed several major companies, and it also poured $45 billion into the SoftBank Vision Fund, a vehicle that's become one of the biggest investors in the tech world. Either directly or indirectly, the kingdom has provided cash to many of the top names in VC and PE.
Here's a look at the funds and companies Saudi Arabia's PIF has backed since the beginning of 2014—hover your mouse over the circles for more details on the deals:
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman are among the leaders of PIF-backed companies to pull out of the Future Investment Initiative conference. But they haven't gone so far as to extricate themselves from investment deals with the nation. Saudi's sovereign wealth fund poured $3.5 billion into Uber in 2016, and the ridehailing company has also received billions from the Vision Fund. Schwarzman is also financially tied to Saudi Arabia, as the PIF has committed $20 billion to the massive infrastructure fund Blackstone is currently raising.
One business that's reportedly opting out of a financial relationship with Saudi Arabia is Endeavor Content, a Los Angeles-based talent agency formed by the merger of WME and IMG that's been backed by Silver Lake since 2012. Endeavor is pulling out of an agreement for the Saudi fund to invest $400 million in exchange for a 5% to 10% stake in the agency, according to The Hollywood Reporter.