The outside of one of Didi’s buildings on Oct 30, 2019 in Beijing. (Image credit: TechNode/Coco Gao)

On Thursday, Yan Baocai, the owner of a car fleet company, attempted to commit suicide (in Chinese). In his suicide note, he blamed Didi for putting his company out of business. The note called Didi out for their monopolistic practices and especially their use of unlicensed cars.

Why it matters: After Uber China was bought by Didi, the ride-hailing company controls more than 80% of the market. As with other giants, Didi has become a target for both user and regulatory complaints. Over the past two years, Didi has been shadowed by the murders perpetrated during its rides. Now, this attempted suicide has once again thrust them into public scrutiny.

Details:  Yan tried to end his life on December 26 by taking medicine and liquor at home, hoping his death would raise social and governmental awareness of Didi’s problems.

  • Based out of Taiyuan of northern China’s Shanxi province, Yan’s company is mainly engaged in car leasing, vehicle and auto parts sales, and used car trading. Yan holds a 49% in the company, according to enterprise intelligence database Tianyancha.
  • Yan claimed that even though his firm met Didi’s and regulatory requirements, his cars were not allowed to operate on the Didi platform. According to his note, this was a huge blow since Didi owns almost the entire market.
  • The note also accused Didi of knowingly accepting unlicensed cars and drivers as well as covering the government fines incurred.
  • Yan was sent to a nearby hospital after his family discovered him. According to reports, his life is no longer in danger but has lost his will to live.
  • Didi responded with an open letter today, pledging to help Yan to solve his problem and improve the company’s services.
  • Didi represents over 82% of the 16,843 illegal cars on ride-hailing platforms in Shanghai, while Meituan accounts for 15%, according to the transportation authority of the city.
  • Tensions between Didi and local regulators has been escalating. Although the firm is quick to pay fines it’s been slow in removing the problematic vehicles.

Ride-hailers may face app store delisting over illegal drivers in Shanghai

Context: This is not the first entrepreneur suicide of recent note.

  • In 2017, the maker of WePhone committed suicide after being blackmailed for  RMB 10 million (roughly $1.5 million). His blackmailer was an ex-wife he met on Jiayuan.com.
  • More recently, a merchant on platform Taojiji committed suicide (in Chinese) after he was unable to get his money back from the bankrupt company.

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.

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