I suspect that most readers of this article have heard of, or used, Uber. Some may know of Lyft in the US, however, how many have heard of Didi Chuxing (until recently called Didi Kuaidi)? I hadn’t, until I read a magazine article about them. Note the logo – a tad close to Uber’s old one don’t you think?
The company was formed by two of China’s largest Internet companies: Alibaba and Tencent to help the growing web connected buyers to travel without using public transport. The report said that in 2014 Didi Chuxing organised 1.4 billion ride shares in China alone – that is more than Uber has ever done since it was launched!
Uber is trying to break in to the China market and are fighting the local incumbent by offering incentives to drivers to sign up. Didi C has countered that to ensure it retains its dominant position. There is one big difference between the US and Chinese competitors: Didi C has a wider selection of transport modes. Like Uber, you can use a private car for the ride share, but unlike Uber, you can also get a proper taxi, a shared car, a shuttle van and even a bus!
To make it harder for Uber, Didi C has signed alliances with several ride share companies in other parts of the world to ensure that their members can use the services when visiting China.
Didi C is run by Jean Lui, an ex Goldman Sachs employee who has big plans for the company. She sees huge value in the data collected by the services used and has branched out into other areas using the data as a basis for the expansion. The article I read suggested that the company was working with the China Merchant Bank to offer loans to the drivers to buy new vehicles and they could even expand that business to the passengers!
In another area, Didi C’s mobile app enables prospective cars buyers to book test drives of certain Mercedes and Audi models – perhaps turning them into drivers as well! With all the data generated, we will see Didi K move into many other markets and possibly overseas expansion too. I’m sure Uber is watching with interest to see what they do next – and may follow in some business lines too.
Data – especially Big Data, will open up many more ways for a company to generate revenues if their leaders are switched on to the technology that gives them views of the data collected. However, the data is only as good as the collection method. Collect the wrong data and it is worthless, Didi C will show many companies how to do it correctly.
This company is certainly going places, last month they announced that they were raising at least $1.5 billion in a funding exercise and that is expected to grow as the program was heavily over-subscribed. A lot of people clearly want a piece of the action.