HONG Kong (May 13): Apple Inc invested US$1 billion ($1.38 billion) in Didi, the single largest investment the Chinese ride-hailing service has ever received as it battles Uber Technologies Inc.
Apple will help Didi build its data-driven ride-sharing platform, as the company now completes more than 11 million rides a day and serves about 300 million users, Didi said in a statement on Friday. It joins other investors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd.
Didi, incorporated as Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc, is in the process of a fundraising round that could raise more than US$2 billion at a valuation of about US$25 billion, people familiar with the matter have said. The deal could close in weeks, people said.
While Didi jumped out to lead in China, Uber is spending heavily to catch up and has said the country could eventually become its largest market. Both need capital to pay for recruiting drivers and subsidizing customer fares.
Didi will be profitable “soon,” Vice President of Strategy Stephen Zhu said at a Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong last month, without giving a specific time frame.
The company formed an international coalition with Lyft Inc in the US, India’s Ola and Southeast Asia’s Grab to fight a globally expanding Uber. Didi operates in 400 Chinese cities and works with more than 14 million Chinese car owners.