Uber’s worst nightmare just came true. Its rivals around the world have inked a blood pact. Ola in India, Didi Kuaidi in China, GrabTaxi in Southeast Asia, and Lyft in the USA today announced a strategic global rideshare partnership.
Together, these four companies cover nearly half of the world’s population covered, boasts an official announcement about the partnership. Didi and Lyft had already closed ranks in September, but now with Ola and GrabTaxi also in the fold, it’s a formidable front against Uber. No longer will it be battles between a global entity and its local rivals. It’s escalated into a world war between the allies and Uber.
For international travelers, this alliance means seamless ridesharing across multiple countries. For example, an Indian Ola user can use the same app in Singapore to hail a GrabTaxi and vice versa. The companies will collaborate and use each other’s technology, local market knowledge, and business resources to do it.
“Each country will handle mapping, routing, and payments through a secure API, providing the best global experience for the millions of travelers that cross between India, Southeast Asia, China, and the US every year,” says the announcement.
The joint partner products will start rolling out in the first quarter of 2016. When that happens, it will remove one of the advantages Uber enjoyed as a global taxi hailing app which international travelers found more convenient.
A pride of lions
All four companies are lions on their home turfs, their regions are also the biggest markets for taxi apps.
- Ola operates in 102 Indian cities. It claims to have over 350,000 vehicles registered on its platform and a million plus booking requests a day.
- Didi pegs seven million rides per day across 360 Chinese cities. It claims an 83 percent market share in private car hailing.
- Lyft in the US runs in over 190 cities and claims to have 7 million rides per month.
- GrabTaxi leads Southeast Asia with up to 1.5 million daily bookings across six countries.
But to Uber’s credit, it managed to put the fear for life in all of them by making swift and deep inroads into these markets. Uber’s success helped it to raise a multi-billion dollar war chest. At the same time, it forced the local players to step up their game. And now, together, Ola, Didi, Lyft, and GrabTaxi might be a little more than what Uber can chew. Their war chest has over US$7 billion collectively.
The founders of these startups are counting big on this unusual friendship across borders. Here’s what they had to say about it.
- Anthony Tan, founder and CEO of GrabTaxi, says:
“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. We admire all three companies and have similar goals to improve the lives of drivers and passengers while also helping to solve major transportation challenges for the long-term. Under this umbrella, we see many opportunities to share ideas and best practices – from product innovations to driver support, technology developments, and approaches for managing local operations in a rapidly scaling organization.
- Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of Ola, says:
This will 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.
- Cheng Wei, CEO of Didi Kuaidi, says:
As Didi consolidates market leadership across all main verticals, we are now focused on applying more refined big-data tools to in-depth product innovation to enhance the user experience. The partnership with Lyft, GrabTaxi, and Ola allows Chinese users unprecedented ease of international travel, and helps partners improve our own services leveraging each other’s technology and expertise. This will be a win for the diversity and vitality of the global rideshare industry.
- John Zimmer, Lyft co-founder and president, says:
This isn’t solely an alliance of four companies, but also an opportunity have a greater impact on the future of our cities worldwide.
The writing was on the wall that a grand alliance would emerge against Uber when SoftBank invested in Didi Kuaidi, Ola, and GrabTaxi. And Alibaba, whose early investor was SoftBank, backed Lyft. So the scene was set for an Alibaba-SoftBank-led alliance to face off against Uber. Tech in Asia saw this coming back in July.
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