Transportation

Lyft, Didi, Ola And GrabTaxi Partner In Global Tech, Service Alliance To Rival Uber

Comment

Image Credits:

As Uber ramps up its business globally with yet more money, four of its regional rivals are getting closer to each other in a bid for more scale and service continuity. Lyft in the U.S., Didi Kuaidi in China, Ola in India and GrabTaxi in SouthEast Asia have now inked a strategic partnership to work together on technology and services. This will begin with customers of each company able to use their local apps to order transportation when they travel to the other markets in the network, starting in Q1 2016.

The companies say that each country will handle “mapping, routing and payments through a secure API.”

The four companies all say the plan is to keep their independence as regionally-focused companies and to keep growing in that way, rather than to view this news as a precursor to a merger or more growth for any individual company.

“We’re not excluding expansion to other places, but we are a startup and cautious about how we grow,” a spokesperson for Didi Kuaidi told TechCrunch in an interview. “The idea is not to merge and acquire but to find people we can work with. In China we have an urban population of 800 million but we are only currently serving 250 million, so we have a lot of room to grow, and this population will always be our priority.”

Nevertheless, a service and technology tie-up between the four companies is a natural progression of the increasing financial connections between them. All four share common VC backers, most notably SoftBank, who we have in the past described as Uber’s biggest competitor because of its prolific investments in Uber competitors.

Collectively, the group has raised $7 billion in funding. But in the race to raise more money to pour into marketing, R&D and growth, Uber has built up a warchest of $8.21 billion and is reportedly raising another $2.1 billion more.

The other connection between the four partners is that Didi has invested in Lyft ($100 million announced in September), GrabTaxi (leading a $350 million round in August) and Ola (part of $500 million round also over the summer).

The Lyft deal, in fact, marked the start of the collaboration we’re hearing about today. At the time, the two companies announced similar cross-app collaboration by way of interlinking APIs to so that customers of one could hail cars in the other’s market.

Even with that cross-app service yet to launch, Didi is positive on its Lyft investment. Though there’s no merger/acquisition talks at this time, according to the company.

Uber takes a different tack by aggressively expanding into countries like China instead of partnering, taking on current ridesharing leaders there. Whereas Lyft’s current plan helps the startup get to know the place and gently expand use where other services dominate.

“When we look at other geographies, Asian geographies we do think there’s something exciting to do on our own,” says Lyft co-founder John Zimmer.

But don’t hold onto thoughts of Lyft as a standalone in foreign lands just yet. According to Zimmer that’s not in the cards in the near future. “That’s not something we’ll talk about until next year,” he said.

Part of the rationale for focusing on a cross-platform apps, the companies say, is that it will let them serve a large number of customers more continuously as they travel between the various markets, with a service that is more user-friendly. Didi says that China has nearly 100 million people travelling abroad every year, with 2 million U.S. visitors to China. And GrabTaxi highlights that Southeast Asia is a very popular destination for people from both India and the Mainland.

“We are pleased to help Lyft, Didi and Ola offer transportation services in Southeast Asia where the significant diversity of language, culture and social practices across the region can be challenging for foreign companies to navigate,” said Anthony Tan, CEO of GrabTaxi in a statement.

More importantly, it seems that a collaboration will help the companies measure how well they can work together, and where they might be able to reduce costs in the capital-intensive process of competing against Uber and other services both on a day-to-day basis, and as they eye up what new tech they may bring to the market in the future.

“We are excited to partner with Lyft, Didi Kuaidi and GrabTaxi, allowing seamless mobility access across hundreds of cities globally for our combined user base that runs into hundreds of millions,” said Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO of Ola in a statement. “This will also allow all four companies to learn from each other’s local innovations and successes that can help us in our shared mission to build better mobility solutions in our respective markets.”

Indeed, while Ola, Didi and GrabTaxi all claim to be market leaders over Uber in their respective regions, recently leaked financials from Lyft underscore just what a financial struggle it can be to compete in the transportation market today, and is perhaps a fate they all would like to avoid.

One gap in the market, however, still seems to be Europe, where Softbank has yet to reveal any investments in transportation apps, although a source says that we may see a development on that front in the next year.

More TechCrunch

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

Ahead of the AI safety summit kicking off in Seoul, South Korea later this week, its co-host the United Kingdom is expanding its own efforts in the field. The AI…

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

14 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data