The 33-year-old entrepreneur started Didi Dache, a company that later merged with Kuaidi Dache to form mega e-hailing firm Didi Kuaidi
He is the founder and CEO of one of the most watched online taxi booking companies in the world. No, he is not Travis Kalanick.
Cheng Wei, the original Co-founder and CEO of Didi Dache (now merged with Kuaidi Dache to form Didi Kuaidi), started the company in June 2012.
The startup was hugely successful in China, the only country it was and is operating out of, having scored more than 100 million registered users and a million registered drivers in 300 cities as of end-2014.
Didi Dache also managed to reel in plenty of external investment, including a US$700 million Series D round led by Singapore-based Temasek Holdings in December 2014.
It was in February 2015 that Didi Dache and its biggest local competitor Kuaidi Dache announced their US$6 billion merger deal to form a single entity: Didi Kuaidi.
Fast forward 11 months: Didi Kuaidi has completed 1.43 billion rides across its seven main services (private car, taxi, Hitch, designated driver, Didi bus, test drive and enterprise services) in the last year alone.
“We spent three years linking up urban mobility options on our mobile platform,” says Cheng, in a statement. “In the next three years, Big Data and artificial intelligence capabilities will enable us to maximise the efficiency of all the tools.”
That said, let’s find out more about Cheng. Here are the three things you should know about the 33-year-old Chinese entrepreneur.
1. He left Alibaba to start Didi Dache
Having worked seven years for Chinese e-commerce Alibaba, Cheng decided to leave to start Didi Dache and become an entrepreneur. It is understood that he had worked at Alipay, the online payment solution under Alibaba.
In an interview with tech.163.com, Cheng said that there are no boundaries to the verticals Didi will play a part in, and that he will work on anything and everything that will make the world a better place.
2. He doesn’t know how to drive
Cheng may run a ride-sharing and hailing company but he’s no driver. This proves that you don’t have to be a master at your field to start — you only need to solve a problem people would pay money for.
Furthermore, him not owning a car also means that he’s the ideal customer for Didi Kuaidi — a young, tech-savvy working professional who needs to rely on taxis to get from one place to another.
3. He thinks Uber and Didi are not the same
Cheng said to a reporter, “Didi and Uber has never been the same kind of company.”
“Didi is not willing to be dubbed ‘China’s Uber’,” he adds. “We have linked 80 per cent of the rental cars in China, but Uber hasn’t.”
However, and quite naturally, Uber is still a rival for Didi to contend with. “As an American company, Uber has a more global-facing vision, bigger ambitions,” says Cheng. “Last year, they burnt through US$15 billion operating in China, but Didi still managed to take on 83 per cent of the market share… I think an American firm relying on burning money will not be able to beat a Chinese company.”
Cheng also noted that Didi is pro-cooperation, which is why the company formed an alliance with three of the world’s biggest e-hailing companies: Lyft, Ola and GrabTaxi.
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