Ola, the Uber rival that is leading the taxi app market in India, has refueled its tank after taking on another $500 million in funding. The Series F round, which we reported on back in September, values the company at $5 billion and was led by new investor Baillie Gifford and existing backers, Falcon Edge, Tiger Global, SoftBank Group and DST Global. It also included input from strategic investor — and China-based Uber rival — Didi Kuaidi.
Ola, which has now raised more than $1.4 billion from investors — including a $400 million Series E in April at a $2.5 billion valuation — said it would use the new capital to “further accelerate its growth in the Indian market.” The firm said its app is now clocking more than one million booking requests (note: it didn’t say how many rides it completes each day, but we understand it is close to one million), and it is present in more than 102 cities across India. Uber, by contrast, recently injected $1 billion into its India-based business, where it reportedly logs 250,000 rides per day across the
18 cities 22 cities (correction) that it is present in.
In terms of growth, Ola said usage of its service has grown 30 fold over the past year. The company has 350,000 vehicles on its platform, which include regular taxis, high-end ‘Prime’ vehicles, rickshaws, and commuters via a new ‘Ola Share’ carpooling service that it added recently.
“As we pursue our mission to build mobility for a billion people, we are excited about bringing onboard partners who can help us get there faster,” Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of Ola said in a statement. “We will continue to build for the local market through innovative solutions like Ola Share, Ola Prime and Ola Money, as we grow the mobile ecosystem in India.”
While Uber is funneling resources into India, a market that — like China — it believes will soon surpass its U.S. business, Ola is generally a few steps ahead of its rival across the board. Ola was first to allow cash payments — Uber now offers this in India and other emerging markets — while it also tackled the cheap rickshaw market first, and has a wider footprint covering India’s tier-two and three cities and beyond. In big cities, though the gap appears to be narrower — with both companies offering carpooling services, mobile wallets and more.
It’s interesting to note that this new funding comes a week after Ola gave its in-app payment service — Ola Money — a standalone app. The executive heading up the project told TechCrunch that there are no plans to spin the service out (Alibaba’s Alipay service, for one, started as an internal project), but the move highlights Ola’s desire to be more than just a taxi app service. That’s obviously going to require a lot of investment and, as today’s news shows, investors don’t appear to be shy in coming forward to back Ola and its ambitions once again.