Didi Chuxing started out as an app to order taxi pick up in China, but has today grown to include a wide range of services, including social ride sharing. Currently used by close to 300 million people in 400 Chinese cities, and with some services being inter-city, Didi Chuxing is commonly referred to as a one-stop mobile transportation service platform.
China’s three online giants Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent are all notable investors in Didi Chuxing.
In 2016, Didi Chuxing acquired their competitor Uber China from Uber. That same year, over 200 million rides were carried out through the Didi Chuxing app.
Here are a few examples of the services included in the Didi Chuxing app:
|Didi Taxi||Taxi drivers in 380 cities throughout China are using the app. At the time of writing, approximately 1.7 million drivers are connected.|
|Didi Chauffer||This service is used in about 200 Chinese cities.|
|Didi Hitch||A social ride-sharing service with 2.2 million daily rides at peak (both inter-city and within cities).
During the Chinese New Year holiday of 2017, an astonishing 8.4 million passenger trips were carried out through the DiDi Inter-City Hitch.
|Didi Express||Roughly 2 million people use this carpooling service to commute every day. It is active in about 400 cities throughout China.|
|Didi Enterprise Solution||A service for corporate clients.|
|Didi Bus||This service was first tested out through WeChat in Beijing and Shenzhen in early 2015. In September, Didi Chuxing took over the Kaola Bus fleet in Beijing. A month later, Didi Bus was officially launched, providing transport for about half a million commuters a day.|
|Didi Minibus||This service was launched in late 2016, with the aim of providing connections to and between major public transportation hubs.|
|Didi Car Rental||This overseas car rental service was launched in January 2017. It serves the Chinese Didi app users when they need cars abroad. Currently, rental cars are available in approximately 1,500 cities spread over 100+ countries.|
|Didi Test Drive||This service works together with 200+ car makers and builds P2P car owner communities.|
|Didi Luxe||Luxury service|
|Didi Bike Sharing||Bike sharing|
Didi Dache (2012-2015)
The ride-hailing service Didi Dache was launched in June 2012. It was an app created by Cheng Wei that users could utilize to request taxi pick up. The name basically means “beep beep call a taxi”.
Initially, you could only use the app to request a taxi for immediate pick up. Eventually, a new version was released that could also be used to schedule taxis for the following day.
In late 2013, a report from Analysis International showed that 150 million Chinese were using their smartphones to hail taxis and that Didi Chuxing had an estimated 55% of this market. Didi’s main competitor, Kuaidi Dache, held almost all of the remaining market share.
Didi Dache completed its Series B financing in 2013, and its Series C in 2014.
Jean Liu (Liu Qing) joined Didi Dache as its COO in 2014, bringing with her skills and know how from her previous position as managing director at Goldman Sachs Asia. In the following year, Liu became president of Didi Dache.
Didi Kuaidi (2015-2015)
Didi Kuaidi was formed in February 2015 when Didi Dache merged with Kuaidi Dache. At that point, Didi Dache was backed by Tencent Holdings Limited and Kuaidi Dache by the Alibaba Group. Prior to the merger, they had been involved in a disastrous price war against each other tha resulted in substantial losses for both. The two companies merged chiefly to end the war; they continued to operate parallel to each other with separate management teams.
In May 2015, Didi Dache spent approximately 160 million USD on promotions and advertising to handle competition from startups such as Uber and Yidao Yongche. In an effort to become more appealing, Didi Dache also began adding extra features to its app, e.g. tools for carpooling, a special service for passengers with disabilities, and the ability to hire premium and designated drivers.
After completing a fundraising round in July, the company’s cash reserves exceeded 3.5 billion USD. (The fundraising round brought in 2 billion USD, making it the largest single fundraising round by a private company up to that date.) Some of the money came from existing stakeholders, including Alibaba, Coatue Management, Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd, and Tencent. Examples of new investors that entered during the fundraising round are Capital International Private Equity Fund and Ping An Ventures.
Didi Chuxing (from September 2015)
In September 2015, Didi Kuaidi re-branded itself as Didi Chuxing. By then, the company had a market share of 99% for taxis and 80% for private cars.
Late in 2015, Didi Chuxing entered into partnerships with cab-hailing networks Grab, Lyft, Ola and 99 to make it possible for consumers signed up with any of these networks to book rides on any of the participating networks, using the same app as before.
In 2015, a total of 1.4+ billion rides were arranged through Didi’s platform.
Uber commenced their operations in China in 2015, and was by early 2016 involved in a heavy price war with Didi Chuxing. While Uber China was active in just 40 Chinese cities, Didi Chuxing existed in 400 cities throughout the country, break-even in just half of them.
Didi Chuxing closed a 4.5 billion USD fundraising round in June, breaking its old record. Examples of investors: China Life Insurance Co., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Apple Inc. Didi Chuxing also raised approximately 300 million USD in debt from China Life and secured a 2.5 billion USD syndicated loan through China Merchants Bank Co.
In August, Didi Chuxing’s purchase of Uber China was made official. It was also revealed that Uber China’s parent company Uber now owned 5.89% of Didi Chuxing with a preferred equity interest equal to a 17.7% economic interest. As a part of the deal, Didi Chuxing obtained a minority equity interest in Uber and Cheng Wie became member of Uber’s Board of Directors. Also, Travis Kalanick became a member of Didi Chuxing’s Board of Directors.
After the acquisition, Didi Chuxing was valued at 35 billion USD.
The Didi Labs in Mountain View, California, USA were inaugurated in March. The work here is mainly focused on AI-based security and AI-driving technologies.
In April, Didi Chuxing closed a record-breaking financing round of over 5.5 billion USD. The money is largely earmarked for the company’s global strategy and continued investments in AI-based technologies.
The Didi Research Institute, where several hundred scientists are working, will focus on AI technologies, including computer vision and machine learning.