Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi has a group of employees who are secretly working toward the launch of a food delivery service, local media reports, citing people familiar with matter.
The source pointed out that Didi has been engaged in the R&D of food delivery service for quite a while. Product development and technical staff on the project have been relocated to a new office and their details have been removed from Didi’s internal communication contacts, the source added.
Didi has not provided any comment in response to our inquiry into the matter. But a previous conversation with CEO Cheng Wei shows that the firm is at least open to such areas. “Everything is possible. The most important issue is whether it will create value for our users,” said Cheng when asked by Tencent News about the possibilities of entering catering and local life sectors.
Also, there are earlier signs of Didi’s interest in the sector. As early as 2015, the firm partnered with Ele.me for a program similar to ‘UberEATs’, the food delivery service run by Uber. The partnership has potential synergy given that both companies exist within Tencent’s strategic investment ecosystem.
Didi’s new food delivery service will put it in direct competition with Meituan, China’s top O2O titan that itself added a car-hailing function to its app in February this year.
As Chinese internet giants are increasingly blurring the boundaries between sectors, it’s getting harder and harder to define them by a single industry. Alibaba is no longer just an e-commerce giant and search engine has long ceased to be Baidu’s only pillar of business. Such business expansions will cause business overlap between top tech firms, and thus intensify competition in these verticals.