Tag Archives: Ridehailing
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp is investing in Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab as part of a partnership that the two companies said will allow them to collaborate on technology projects, including big data and artificial intelligence.
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a Grab office in Singapore March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo
The companies did not disclose the deal value.
Grab had earlier said it planned to raise roughly $ 3 billion by year-end, of which it has already raised $ 2 billion.
Last week, Reuters reported that existing backer SoftBank Group Corp was closing in on a deal to invest about $ 500 million in Grab as part of the funding round.
Sources told Reuters that Grab is likely to tap strategic and financial firms for the remainder of the funding.
Before Tuesday’s deal, it raised $ 2 billion in 2018, led by Toyota Motor Corp and financial firms, including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital.
Singapore-headquartered Grab has taken its ride-hailing business to 235 cities in eight countries in Southeast Asia in the past six years.
It is looking to transform itself into a leading consumer technology group, offering services such as food and parcel deliveries, electronic money transfers, micro-loans and mobile payments, besides ride-hailing.
Grab will work with Microsoft to explore mobile facial recognition, image recognition and computer vision technologies to improve the pick-up experience, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.
For example, passengers will be able to take a photo of their current location and have it translated into an actual address for the driver.
Other areas of the five year-agreement include Grab adopting Microsoft’s Azure as its preferred cloud platform and using it for data analytics and fraud detection services.
Southeast Asia, home to some 640 million people, is shaping up as a battleground for global technology giants such as Alibaba, Tencent Holdings Ltd, JD.com, Alphabet Inc’s Google and SoftBank, particularly in ride-hailing, online payments and e-commerce.
Competition for Grab is heating up with Indonesian rival Go-Jek also expanding in the region.
Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Stephen Coates
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to invest $ 1 billion in Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab as a lead investor in the company’s ongoing financing round, which was launched after it bought the regional business of Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL].
The investment by Toyota is the largest-ever by an automaker in the global ride-hailing sector, the six-year old start-up said in a statement on Wednesday.
It is also the latest collaboration between a global vehicle maker and a technology firm as ride-hailing companies dominate the fast-growing field of mobility services, raising the risk of a future where car ownership declines in favor of such services.
Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp last month announced it would invest $ 2.25 billion in the Cruise autonomous vehicle unit of General Motors Co, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC [TAMOJL.UL] have agreed to supply vehicles for Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car subsidiary Waymo.
Toyota’s investment will allow Grab, which counts peer Didi and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp as investors, to further expand its range of online to offline services, such as food delivery and digital payments, deeper into the region.
Grab will be valued at just over $ 10 billion after Toyota’s investment, said a person familiar with the matter.
A Toyota executive will be appointed to Grab’s board of directors and a dedicated Toyota team member will be seconded to Grab as an executive officer, the ride-hailing firm said.
Wednesday’s announcement deepens Toyota’s partnership with Grab, following an earlier, undisclosed investment by the automaker’s trading arm last year.
Toyota has installed its driving recorder devices in some vehicles operated by Grab, using the collected data stored in its mobility services platform to analyze driving patterns and develop vehicle services.
The automaker on Wednesday said by deepening the partnership, it hoped to achieve connectivity for Grab’s rental car fleet across Southeast Asia and offer financing, insurance and maintenance services to drivers based on data collected on its platform.
“Going forward, together with Grab, we will develop services that are more attractive, safe and secure for our customers in Southeast Asia,” Toyota executive Shigeki Tomoyama said in a statement.
Data collected from the recorders could also help Toyota in its own development of next-generation mobility services, including a self-driving electric vehicle it plans to develop for companies to use for tasks such as ride hailing, package delivery and mobile shops.
South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co and Japan’s Honda Motor Co Ltd have also previously funded Grab, which said it has achieved run-rate revenue of over $ 1 billion. The company’s app has been downloaded onto over 100 million mobile devices and the firm logs over 6 million rides per day.
Earlier this year, Uber exchanged its Southeast Asian operations for 27.5 percent of Singapore-headquartered grab, ending a battle between the two for regional dominance.
Southeast Asia, home to about 640 million people, is a major arena for tech firms offering services from digital payments and ride-hailing to e-commerce.
Last month, Indonesian ride-hailing and online payment firm Go-Jek said it would enter Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines in the next few months, investing $ 500 million in its international push.
Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in SINGAPORE and Naomi Tajitsu in TOKYO; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian ride-hailing firm Ola, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group will launch 10,000 electric three-wheelers in the country over the next 12 months as part of a broader electrification plan, the company said in a statement on Monday.
The move is part of a broader push by Ola to launch 1 million electric vehicles on its platform by 2021, it said in the statement, adding that it will work with various state governments, vehicle manufacturers and battery companies to meet its target.
Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Swati Bhat
DUBAI (Reuters) – Middle East ride-hailing app Careem said on Wednesday it had resumed services in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank after striking a deal with Palestinian transport authorities.
Dubai-based Careem suspended services in Ramallah last November, four months after launching there, at the request of the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank.
Careem said in a statement it had agreed with the Palestinian transport ministry for its fares to be the same as metered taxis. It has resumed services only with licensed taxi drivers but plans to later add private cars.
Careem believes its services will remain competitive even with fares the same as for regular taxis. It said the taxi booking and payment services on its app were convenient compared with hailing a cab on the street.
Ride-hailing apps have faced opposition in many markets around the world by making inroads into the traditional taxi industry.
Careem said it had signed up hundreds of drivers in the West Bank, where the Palestinian unemployment rate is high.
The ride-hailing company has raised over $ 500 million and expanded to over 90 cities across 13 countries predominantly in the Middle East since launching in 2012.
Careem started services in the West Bank city of Nablus and in Gaza City this year and said it would continue looking at adding more cities in the tiny Palestinian-ruled enclave.
Careem is a Middle East rival to U.S. company Uber Technologies [UBER.UL], which does not operate in the Palestinian territories.
Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Mark Heinrich
MEXICO CITY/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Working quietly from a shared office space in one of Mexico City’s trendiest neighborhoods, China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is planning to hit its archrival Uber where it hurts.
Mexico is one of Uber Technologies Inc’s [UBER.UL] most prized and profitable markets. The San Francisco firm boasts a near monopoly here, with seven million users in more than three dozen cities. Which is precisely why Didi wants to knock Uber from that comfortable perch.
To learn how to conquer Uber, the Chinese firm is going straight to the source. It is poaching Uber employees for its Mexico management team. Didi employees are riding incognito with Uber drivers and chatting up passengers to pinpoint weaknesses, according to people familiar with its strategy. And Didi is thinking bigger than Uber, with ambitions for bike-sharing, scooters and motorcycles in Mexico, the people say.
The Chinese firm has deep pockets, thanks to blue-chip global investors that include Apple Inc and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp [9984.T]. In the past year alone, it has pulled in nearly $ 10 billion to help fund global expansion.
“I would not want to go to war with Didi,” said Beijing-based investor and adviser Jeffrey Towson. “They don’t lose.”
But whether Didi can beat its nemesis here is far from certain. Mexico is the Chinese firm’s first attempt at building an operation from scratch outside of Asia – a costly gambit.
What is clear is that Didi is under pressure to keep growing to justify its $ 56 billion valuation. Latin America is the newest battleground for the old rivals, and Didi will be in enemy territory.
“It’s fundamentally different when you’re jumping across an ocean,” said IHS Markit analyst Jeremy Carlson.
Didi Chuxing Technology Co is the world’s largest ride-hailing firm by number of rides, thanks to its commanding market share in China, where it has 450 million users. It completed more than 7.4 billion rides last year, not quite double Uber’s count.
Uber learned the hard way about Didi’s brawn. After waging an expensive campaign to crack the Chinese market, Uber in 2016 sold its operation to Didi in exchange for a 17.5 percent stake in the Chinese firm, which also made a $ 1 billion investment in Uber.
The titans continue to butt heads as they race to carve up the rest of the globe. Uber is the top dog in Latin America, where Brazil and Mexico rank among its largest markets outside the United States. In Mexico, Uber held an 87 percent market share as of August, according to Dalia Research, a Berlin-based consumer research firm.
(For a graphic on Uber’s market share in Latin America, see: tmsnrt.rs/2FhfZHo)
Didi wants to change that. Reuters was first to report that Didi had designs on Mexico, where it began recruiting employees last year.
The company declined to talk openly about its plans, but details of its strategy are emerging.
Nestled on the ninth floor of a WeWork shared office building in the capital’s Juarez neighborhood, Didi is building an operation from the ground up. In foreign markets such as India and the Middle East, it purchased stakes in existing companies. But Uber is so dominant in Mexico that there is no clear investment opportunity in a local competitor, according to people familiar with Didi’s thinking.
Hungry for experienced talent, Didi is aggressively recruiting current and former Uber employees, offering to nearly double their salaries in some cases, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
At the helm of Didi’s Mexico operation is Uber veteran Lin Ma, who helped launch Uber’s ill-fated venture in China. Now Didi’s director of international operations, Ma also worked on operations at 99, the Brazilian ride-hailing startup that Didi purchased at the end of last year, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Ma and others at Didi have so far poached at least five Uber managers and specialists in Mexico who have experience in operations, logistics, strategy, marketing and driver training, a review of LinkedIn profiles shows.
Ma declined to comment.
The company has yet to recruit drivers, and it is not clear which cities it will enter first, according to a person familiar with Didi’s strategy.
Rather than compete solely on price, the person said, Didi plans to promote safe drivers and fast response times; the company has built an algorithm to help it predict 15 minutes in advance where it should dispatch vehicles.
Didi is also considering offering bike-sharing, scooters and motorcycles in Mexico, while Uber so far has stuck to ride-hailing. A broad array of transport options helped Didi prevail in China.
But the biggest difference may come down to cash. To protect drivers, the person said, Didi will not handle cash fares in Mexico.
Uber, meanwhile, has pushed Mexican lawmakers hard for the right to accept cash in a region where tens of millions lack bank accounts. The move has generated business, along with controversy.
In Brazil, Uber saw a surge of robberies and murders of its drivers after the company began accepting cash there, according to a 2017 Reuters analysis. Uber says it has added tools to authenticate riders’ identities, better protecting drivers.
Mexico has not seen a similar wave of attacks so far. Nevertheless, Uber’s position puts it at odds with regulators in some Mexican states.
While Didi appears to be sidestepping that obstacle, it faces cultural hurdles in Latin America, according to Daisy Wu, head of international business at Yeahmobi, which helps Chinese startups go global.
Latin American consumers generally prefer U.S. brands to Chinese brands, she said, and Chinese business culture can be off-putting to local employees.
“Most of the Chinese companies that have gone to Latin America are still trying to be successful,” Wu said.
Didi, for example, bewildered Mexico job candidates by trying to schedule interviews the week of Christmas.
“I was very surprised … I was thinking, should I cancel my vacation?” one applicant told Reuters.
Uber’s lead in Latin America, meanwhile, has taken on heightened importance as it prepares for a potential initial public offering next year.
The company, which lost $ 4.5 billion last year, is facing fierce competition at home and in Asia, and a regulatory crackdown in Europe. It is also recovering from a year of scandals that saw co-founder Travis Kalanick forced out as chief executive in June amid multiple federal criminal probes and a workplace marred by sexual harassment allegations.
Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s vice president of operations for Latin America and Asia Pacific, said Uber is prepared to do what it takes to remain dominant in Mexico, a profitable market amid a sea of losses.
“Whether that’s more spending on customer acquisition or more deeply engaging with our existing customers, that will continue to be our focus,” he said.
Uber is committed to maintaining cheap fares for its basic service to keep its Mexican customers loyal, Macdonald said. But he said the company is considering adding more ride options such as upscale cars that would boost revenue.
If Uber is nervous about Didi stealing its lead in Mexico, it is not showing it. Macdonald said the learning curve is steep, something its rival is about to find out.
“Didi has significant bankroll,” Macdonald said. “But there are significant local complexities.”
Reporting by Julia Love in Mexico City and Heather Somerville in San Francisco; additional reporting by Noe Torres in Mexico City.; Editing by Marla Dickerson
DETROIT (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) will provide Waymo with thousands of Pacifica hybrid minivans as Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit begins rolling out its first public ride-hailing service later this year, the companies said on Tuesday.
Depending on its scope and scale, the agreement could put pressure on the likes of Uber Technologies Inc and General Motors Co to speed up their efforts to start self-driving commercial ride-hailing services.
Waymo is part of a growing number of vehicle manufacturers, technology companies and tech startups looking to develop so-called robo-taxis over the next three years in North America, Europe and Asia. Most of those companies have one or more partners.
Fiat Chrysler provided Waymo with 100 Pacifica minivans refitted for self-driving testing in 2016, then 500 in 2017.
“Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology,” Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said in a statement.
The companies said the automaker would start delivering “thousands” of minivans in late 2018. Waymo is due to begin offering a ride-hailing service to the public in Phoenix later this year.
“The additional Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be used to support Waymo as it expands its service to more cities across the United States,” the companies said.
Asked for details on the length of the agreement, a spokeswoman for Fiat Chrysler said the companies would not disclose terms.
Last week, Waymo said it began testing self-driving vehicles in Atlanta, bringing to 25 the total number of U.S. cities in which it is testing.
“The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said.
Last November, Uber said it planned to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo as part of a non-exclusive deal from 2019 to 2021, marking the transition of the U.S. company from an app used to summon a taxi to the owner and operator of a fleet of cars.
Earlier this month, GM said it was seeking U.S. government approval for a fully autonomous car, one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal, to enter the automaker’s first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019.
Reporting By Nick Carey