Didi Chuxing, China’s biggest ride-hailing app and Uber’s top global competitor, has confirmed today a $1 billion USD investment from Apple.
The funding is part of a larger $2 billion USD investment round that the Chinese ride-hailing service is hoping to close soon, potentially valuing the company at around $25 billion USD.
Didi Chuxing, formerly known as Didi Kuaidi, has been expanding aggressively both locally and abroad in a services war with Uber. Didi currently dominates China’s ride-hailing market, and has partnered with complimentary services in other countries as part of a global strategy, including Ola Cabs in India, GrabTaxi in Singapore and Lyft in the U.S. Didi counts Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent among their core strategic investors.
“The endorsement from Apple is an enormous encouragement and inspiration for our four-year-old company,” said Didi founder and CEO Cheng Wei in a statement.
“DiDi exemplifies the innovation taking place in the iOS developer community in China,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We look forward to supporting them as they grow.” Tim Cook was in China last week for meetings with the Chinese government.
Neither company have divulged what the strategic partnership could potentially involve, though the pairing invites Apple into a coveted ecosystem of well-connected mainland investors. Aside from Alibaba and Tencent, the Chinese government is also an investor in Didi Chuxing via their sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp. Apple has maintains a relatively positive relationship with the government, though they experienced several upsets recently including a ban on Apple’s content services: iTunes Movies and iBooks.
A strategic partnership with Apple could help Didi realize their global expansion goals. Didi recently launched a dual service through their Lyft partnership, meaning Didi users traveling in the U.S. can use the local Chinese app and payments systems while Lyft users can use the U.S. app in China.
Though Didi maintains a strong lead over Uber in the Chinese market, servicing over 400 cities, they are still a long way off from competing with Uber globally.
Didi Chuxing were not available for comment at the time of publishing.