After all the drama surrounding Didi Chuxing’s buyout of Uber China, we have all been waiting to see how the once rivals are going to wrap up the past and head towards a joint future. More than three months after the acquisition, we now know that Uber will be officially exiting the Chinese market, both as a company and as a style of service, everything that makes Uber, well, Uber.
Instead of the usual promotions that greet users, Uber China’s welcome screen now features an announcement stating that this app will shutdown on November 27.
In line with this move, the company is actively promoting a new Chinese version of Uber China, co-developed by Didi. The new app, rolled out in late-October, was launched across the country on November 3rd after pilot tests in several cities. One thing to note is that it only works in China.
The app comes with a range of major changes with the addition of some popular features on Didi, such as WeChat and QQ connections as well as in-app messaging. However, it has received criticism for removing the English-language interface as well as the option to use a foreign credit card. It is clear now that the new version is much more Didi than Uber.
Local media, citing people familiar with the matter, say that all the drivers on Uber China’s platform will be transferred to Didi by the end of this month. The source added that drivers are Uber China’s most valuable asset; the average cost of acquiring a user is in the tens of RMB, but the cost for attracting a driver is over 1,000 RMB. Drivers are becoming more valuable resources as the government tightens control on the definition of qualified drivers.
Didi has said that Uber China would “maintain independent branding and business operations to ensure stability and continuity of service for passengers” at the time of the acquisition. But recent change indicates that the old Uber team is taking a back seat in operation and direction of the company.
Didi and Uber China’s tie-up reminds us of a very similar deal between Didi and Kuaidi. Their merger, in February of last year, pledged a similar development plan for the two companies such as independent branding and operation. But now, Kuaidi has lagged far behind Didi in every aspect from branding, talent, business, and capital support.
Since the merger, Didi has added a series of services from carpooling to bus services, but Kuaidi only features the trademark taxi and special car service. It seems that Kuaidi has faded out of public attention while last update of the app was released one year ago. Furthermore, Kuaidi’s founding team is rumored to have sold their shares after the acquisition.
At this point, it really does seem that Didi is the winner in China’s ride-hailing industry.