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Didi accelerates globalization with investment in Brazilian Uber rival 99
Half a year after Didi and Uber struck a truce in the Chinese market, another land-grab between the two is looming, only this time the battle is for the global market.
Didi Chuxing announced on Wednesday that it has made a strategic investment in 99 (formerly 99Taxis), an Uber competitor in Brazil market. The company didn’t specify the investment size or number of shares involved in the deal.
Under the terms of the partnership, Didi will assume a seat on 99’s Board of Directors and will provide strategic guidance and support, including in the areas of technology, product development, operations and business planning, according to a company statement.
Founded by young Brazilian entrepreneurs in 2012, 99 offers an app-based on-demand private car and taxi-hailing services across 550 cities in Brazil, the world’s second fastest-growing internet market. 99 has over 140,000 registered drivers and more than 10 million user downloads. They maintain a leading position in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and other tier-one cities across Brazil.
Peter Fernandez, CEO of 99, said, “We welcome Didi to Latin America. Didi’s financing, state-of-art technology, and operations knowledge will play a key supporting role as 99 actively expands our network and services in Brazil and reshapes the competitive landscape in Latin America.”
Uber retreats from China, Didi goes global
Didi is the dominant player in China’s ride-hailing market with close to 400 million users in over 400 Chinese cities. However, the Chinese company won’t stop at conquering its home country, as Didi’s president Jean Liu said at a Vanity Fair event last October— “We are definitely going global”.
In line with its globalization drive, the heavily-loaded company has already reached a strategic partnership or invested in several regional ride-hailing leaders across the globe.
Didi invested 100 million USD in Lyft, Uber’s main competitor, in the U.S. market in September 2015. The tie-up generates several avenues of cooperation, such as allowing users to summon rides through each other’s network. Didi is also expanding aggressively in Southeast Asia with investment in Ola and Grab.
Didi’s global expansion puts it in direct competition with Uber; their partnership between the four companies is widely considered as an anti-Uber alliance. With the latest investment in 99, the alliance has expanded to Latin America.
For a time, Didi’s acquisition of Uber China cast the alliance into doubt. However, after the taking solid control of the domestic market, global expansion is now a top priority and consolidating the alliance makes more sense for the company.
In Wednesday’s announcement, Cheng Wei, founder and CEO of Didi Chuxing, highlighted thei cooperation with more global partners:
“China and Brazil are the world’s foremost emerging markets with enormous opportunities for our rideshare industry. Partnering with 99, the local market leader, Didi will begin sharing capabilities and products with more diverse communities and innovators. . . . We look forward to working with more global partners in creating better mobility services and more work opportunities for our cities, as we reshape together the future global transportation system.”
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