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DiDi
Formerly called
Didi Kuaidi
(Feb 2015–Sept 2015)
Didi Dache, Kuaidi Dache
(pre-Feb 2015)
Privately held company
Founded June 2012 (June 2012)
Founders Cheng Wei
Headquarters Beijing, China
Area served
Mainland China
Key people
Cheng Wei (Founder and CEO)
Liu Qing (President)[1]
Services Vehicles for hire
Number of employees
over 7,000[2]
Website www.didichuxing.com
www.didi-labs.com
DiDi
Chinese 滴滴出行
Former name
Chinese 滴滴快的

DiDi (Chinese: 滴滴出行; pinyin: Dīdī Chūxíng, pronounced [tɨ́tɨ́ ʈʂʰúɕɪ̌ŋ]), formerly Didi Kuaidi (Chinese: 滴滴快的), is a major Chinese ride-sharing, AI and autonomous technology conglomerate founded by Cheng Wei, providing transportation services for more than 450 million users across over 400 cities in China.[3] Its headquarters is located in Beijing.[1] It provides services including taxi hailing, private car hailing, Hitch (social ride-sharing), DiDi Chauffeur, DiDi Bus, DiDi Test Drive, DiDi Car Rental, DiDi Enterprise Solutions, DiDi Minibus, DiDi Luxe and bike-sharing to users in China via a smartphone application.[4] DiDi has nearly 9,000 employees[5] with 40 percent women.[6]

Formed from the merger of rival firms Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache (backed by the two largest Chinese Internet companies, Tencent and Alibaba respectively), it was initially valued (as of June 2016) at approximately US$28 billion. DiDi acquired Uber's China unit on August 1, 2016.[7] It is the only company to have all of China's three internet giants — Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu — as its investors.[8] In December 2017, DiDi closed a US$4 billion financing round, becoming the most valuable start-up company in the world, with over US$56 billion worth of valuation, and backed by over 100 investors.[9][10]

DiDi is the world's largest and most valuable ride-sharing behemoth, with a monopolistic investment and M&A portfolio in the ride and bike sharing industry across the globe.[11] The company carries 25 million rides per day,[12] far surpassing the combined daily rides of all the other ride-sharing companies around the world.[13][14][15]

In May 2017, DiDi started to develop an English version of its app and services, with plans to expand its platform globally.[16] Recently, it has also been involved in autonomous driving and artificial intelligence (AI), hiring researchers and investing in these areas.[17]

History[edit]

Didi Dache (June, 2012 - February, 2015)[edit]

Didi Dache app logo

Cheng Wei, having worked for Alibaba for eight years, founded Didi Dache. He was left to create his own company because he recognized that cabs were very difficult to catch, particularly during rush hour. Most importantly he missed several flights because he could not hail a cab in time.

In June 2012, Orange Technology (小桔科技) was established and Didi Dache (嘀嘀打车; meaning "Beep Beep Call a Taxi"; or Chinese: 滴滴打车; literally: "Didi Taxi Calling")- the initial incarnation of Didi Chuxing's ride-hailing service, was launched as an app for consumers to request taxis for immediate pick up by Cheng Wei.[18] BeiJing XiaoJun developed the app. Later, the app allowed consumers to reserve taxis for trips in the next day.[19] The company was backed by China’s giant Tencent in November 2012.[20] A 15 million dollar funding was provided by Tencent. However, Kuaidi Dache was backed by Alibaba and the two rivals are fighting against each other.[21] In 2013, Didi Dache completed its Series B financing. Series C was completed in 2014.[19] In the same year, Jean Liu (Liu Qing), a former Goldman Sachs Asia managing director, joined the company as its COO. She became president of the company the following year.[22] The mobile platform taxi-calling application was developed by Chinese mobile application company Beijing Xiaoju Keji Co., Ltd.[23][24][25] The application is one of the major taxi apps in China, with over 100 million users in more than 300 cities. It was established in June 2012.[26]

Didi Kuaidi (February, 2015 - September, 2015)[edit]

Didi Kuaidi is the result of the February 2015 merger between taxi-hailing firms Didi Dache (backed by Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Limited) and Kuaidi Dache, backed by Alibaba Group. A study in December 2013 by Analysis International, cited by Reuters, estimated Didi Dache to hold approximately 55% of the smartphone-based taxi-hailing market (about 150 million Chinese were estimated to use their smartphones to hail taxis), with Kuaidi Dache holding nearly all of the rest of the market share. However, a protracted price war in an effort to gain market share had resulted in mounting losses for the two companies, despite Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache raising US$700 million and US$600 million from private investors, respectively, to sustain their growth in the world's largest transport market.[27] According to the press release on the 2015 merge, Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache would operate in parallel with separate management teams.[28] The combined company was estimated to be worth around $6 billion.[29] It was not clear whether the merger may have violated China anti-monopoly law.[30]

As of May 2015, Didi Dache was to spend another CNY1 billion (US$161 million) on aggressive promotions and advertising in order to consolidate its dominant position against startups such as Yidao Yongche (Chinese: 易到用车) and Uber (who has Baidu, the third-largest Chinese Internet company, as an investor). This included adding other features alongside its basic taxi-calling function such as the ability to carpool, hire premium cars, hire designated drivers and use a special service for passengers with disabilities. Caixin reported that in June 2015 the company had a market share in car hire service of 80.2%.[31] In July 2015, the company completed a US$2 billion fundraising round, bringing the company's cash reserves to over US$3.5 billion. This is the world's largest single fundraising round by any private company, as well as the largest fundraising round for a Chinese mobile internet company. The new investors included Capital International Private Equity Fund and Ping An Ventures, part of Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd. Its existing stakeholders, including Alibaba, Tencent, Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd and Coatue Management, also participated in this fundraising round.[32] By September 2015, the company had a market share in private cars of 80% and in taxis of 99%.[33]

In 2015, Didi Kuaidi invested in Grabtaxi, a taxi-hailing app in Southeast Asia.[34]

Didi Chuxing (from September, 2015)[edit]

In September 2015, Didi Kuaidi rebranded itself as Didi Chuxing.[35] In December 2015, taxi drivers protested against Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache; both companies were forced to close their offices in the city of Luoyang.[36]

Since 2015, DiDi has invested in Grab, Lyft, Ola, Uber, 99,[37] Taxify[38] and Careem.[39] DiDi's acquisition of Uber's operation in China might cloud the partnership.[40]

Around the start of 2016, the company was engaged in a fierce price war with American rival Uber, which started operations in China in 2015. The competition with Uber China which operated in 40 Chinese cities led to Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick to claim the company is losing over US$1 billion annually on its Chinese operations, despite their local unit being valued at around US$8 billion[41] after a recent billion-dollar fundraising round. This was confirmed by Uber's Chinese officials in an email to Reuters in February 2016.[42] Despite Kalanick claiming that "We have a fierce competitor that's unprofitable in every city they exist in, but they're buying up market share...", a spokesman from Didi Chuxing responded in an email to Reuters that Uber's assertions were untrue and that "smaller competitors have to bleed subsidies to make up for their insufficient driver and rider network." The spokesperson further said that Didi Chuxing had passed the break-even mark in over half of the 400 Chinese cities they operate in.[42]

In June, 2016, DiDi closed a USD $4.5 billion fundraising round, with investors including Apple Inc.,[43][44][45] China Life Insurance Co., and the financial affiliate of online shopping firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. This fundraising round is the world’s largest equity share fundraising round by any private company, updating the previous record set by DiDi. In addition, DiDi has secured a $2.5 billion syndicated loan arranged by China Merchants Bank Co. DiDi also raised roughly $300 million in debt from China Life.[46]

Competition with Uber[edit]

Uber entered the Chinese market in August 2013. However, Uber lost approximately US$2 billion dollars trying to compete with Didi Dache and Kuai di Dache.[21][47] Both Didi and Kuaidi, two local Chinese ride-hailing apps, are estimated to control close to 80% of the market. China is the biggest market in the world. Uber is trying to get in the game and they are putting more money and resources to keep up with Didi Dache.[citation needed] Backers of the taxi apps, Tencent and Alibaba are rivals with China's biggest search engine Baidu, who is funding Uber to fight Didi Dache. While Baidu is competing against Didi Dache with Uber, Baidu is also fighting against Alibaba and Tencent directly.[48]

On August 1, 2016, it was announced that DiDi had acquired Uber China.[49] This acquisition valued the company at US$35 billion.[50] With the deal, Uber acquired 5.89% of the combined company with preferred equity interest which is equal to a 17.7% economic interest in DiDi. DiDi will also obtain a minority equity interest in Uber. Under the terms of the deal, Cheng Wei has become a board member of Uber and Travis Kalanick has got a seat on DiDi's board.[51][52]

2017[edit]

On March 28, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that SoftBank Group Corporation had approached Didi Chuxing Technology Co. about investing $6 billion to help the ride-hailing firm expand in self-driving car technologies," with the bulk of the money to come from SoftBank's planned $100 billion Vision Fund.[53] On April 28, 2017, DiDi announced it closed a new financing round of over USD 5.5 billion to support its global strategy and continued investments in AI-based technologies, making the company worth $50 billion.[54]

In December, Reuters reported that Didi had raised $4 billion for a global push into foreign markets and investments into technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, in an apparent bid to challenge Uber.[55] On July 24 2017, DiDi pumped $2 billion into Grab[56], this would deepened the latter's pocket to trump Uber in Southeast Asia.

Services[edit]

DiDi is an application where taxis, private cars and designated drivers can be hired via smartphone. It is similar to apps such as GrabTaxi in Southeast Asia.

It serves more than 450 million users across over 400 Chinese cities with services including taxi hailing, private car hailing, Hitch (social ride-sharing), DiDi Designated Driving, DiDi Bus, DiDi Minibus, DiDi Car Rental, DiDi Enterprise Solutions, DiDi Minibus, DiDi Luxe and Bike-Sharing. As many as 20 million rides were completed on DiDi’s platform on a daily basis in 2016.[57] A total of 1.43 billion rides were completed on DiDi’s platform in 2015.[58]

DiDi Taxi: about 2 million drivers operating in 400 Chinese cities; DiDi partners with 200 taxi companies to upgrade services.[59]

DiDi Express: operating in about 400 cities with an ExpressPool option. Around 2 million passengers use carpooling services to commute every day.[citation needed]

DiDi Hitch (Social Ridesharing): 2.2 million daily inter- and intra-city rides at peak. During 2017 Chinese New Year holiday, DiDi’s Inter-City Hitch provided nearly 8.48 million passenger trips.[60]

Designated Driving: operating in about 200 cities.[citation needed]

Enterprise Solution: about 170,000 corporate clients.[citation needed]

Car Rental: In January 2017, DiDi officially launched its overseas car rental service to serve outbound Chinese travelers in over 1,500 cities across over 100 countries.

DiDi Bus: Launched initially in Beijing and Shenzhen as a WeChat-based trial in 2015. In Beijing, DiDi took over Kaola Bus (考拉班车) fleet and operation in September 2015.[61] By the time of DiDi Bus's official launch in October 2015, DiDi Bus was providing 1,500 daily rides and transporting approximately 500,000 daily commuters.

DiDi Minibus: DiDi started to offer minibus rides in December 2016, aiming to provide “last three-kilometer” connection to and between public transport hubs.[62]

DiDi Select: over 1 million rides a day.[63]

Bike-Sharing: DiDi has added bike-sharing service from ofo to its app since April 2017. DiDi's bus service will enter into an enhanced partnership with ofo. ofo’s bike-routing analytics will help refine the AI-powered algorithms in DiDi’s real-time bus tracker to better respond to users’ differentiated short-distance mobility needs and design more efficient bike-bus transfer options.[64] On January 17, 2018, DiDi launched its own bike-sharing platform, which integrates companies Ofo, Bluegogo and DiDi-branded bikes.[65][66]

Uber China: Operates in over 400 cities[citation needed]

Tencent and Alibaba's apps are all open to allied developers like Lyft.[67]

Technology[edit]

Artificial Intelligence (AI): DiDi has established the DiDi Research Institute to focus on AI technologies including machine learning and computer vision. It hopes the technologies optimise its dispatch system and route planning. A few hundred scientists work on deep-learning technologies at the institute.[68] In March 2017, DiDi launched DiDi Labs in Mountain View, California. It will mainly focus on AI-based security and intelligent driving technologies.[69]

Big data operation: Every day, DiDi's platform generates over 70TB worth of data, processes more than 20 billion routing requests, and produces over 15 billion location points.[70] Now DiDi is building a cloud platform with integrate anonymized data from sensors on vehicles, static information and real-time events from roads and streets with DiDi's pick-up and drop-off data, trips and carry capacity. With this platform, transportation supply and demand can be balanced efficiently, and congestion can be significantly mitigated.[71]

The philosophy behind DiDi's big data program is "The Great Tidal" strategy, which has also been referred to simply as "Tides", is that traffic is a problem that can be solved if the vehicles on DiDi's network could be properly dispatched.[72]

Smart transportation: DiDi leverages its AI capabilities to help cities develop smart transportation solutions. DiDi has launched smart traffic lights, smart transportation screen, reversible lane, thermodynamic diagrams of designated drivers, smart bus, smart traffic report and other programs in Jinan, Shenzhen, Guiyang, Wuhan and other cities.[73]

Globalization[edit]

August to September 2015: DiDi formed partnerships with Southeast Asia, North America and India ride-hailing leaders Grab, Lyft and Ola to start collaboration on areas including investment, products and technology.[citation needed]

August 2016: DiDi acquired Uber China and obtained an equity interest in Uber.[citation needed]

January 2017: DiDi made a strategic investment in 99, Brazil’s largest local shared mobility provider. DiDi will provide strategic guidance and support to 99 in the areas of technology, product development, operations and business planning.

July 2017: DiDi co-led a new financing round of Grab.[74]

August 2017: DiDi formed a strategic partnership with Taxify,[75] a leading ridesharing company in Europe and Africa. In the same month, DiDi also formed a strategic partnership with Careem, the leading ride-hailing and internet platform in the Middle East and North Africa.[76]

December 2017: DiDi was reportedly planning to expand operations to Mexico, perhaps Uber's most profitable market to date.[77]

January 2018: DiDi agreed to acquire 99, a Brazilian ride hailing app, for $600 million.[78][79] DiDi had already bought a $100 million stake in 99 in January 2017, which also gave it the management rights in the app.[78] In the same month, DiDi authorized LEDI Technology Co. as its franchisee to operate taxi-hailing and Hitch business in Taiwan.[80]

February 2018: DiDi launched its new app in Hong Kong, which is an upgraded version of Kuaidi Taxi. The Kuaidi Taxi app had been used since 2015.[81]

Leadership[edit]

Cheng Wei (程维), one of the founders of Didi Dache, has been the CEO of Didi Chuxing since the 2015 merge between Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache. Cheng Wei worked in Alibaba Group for eight years before he set foot in entrepreneurship.[82] In Alibaba, he spent his first six years in the sales of B2B business line and two years in Alipay service.[83] After the acquisition of Uber China, he joined Uber's board of directors.[84] Cheng Wei holds a BA from Beijing University of Chemical Technology.[83]

Chuanwei Lu (吕传伟), the CEO of Kuaidi Dache, was announced to Co-CEO Didi Chuxing with Cheng Wei after the 2015 merge. His actual involvement in the management of DiDi is unclear. There have been some speculations that Chuanwei Lu had sold equity in DiDi and left DiDi's management.

Jean Liu is the current president of Didi Chuxing. Prior to DiDi, Jean worked for Goldman Sachs Asia for 12 years.

CSR[edit]

Environmental protection: In 2015, through its carpooling products, DiDi helped take over a million car trips off the road, saving hundreds of millions of liters of gas, and over 10 million tons in carbon emissions annually.[85]

Employment: DiDi provided over 17 million flexible and equitable job opportunities for people, including a considerable number of women, laid-off workers from traditional sectors and veteran soldiers. In 17 heavy-industry provinces under a national restructuring program, over one million former employees of the mining and steel industries are working as DiDi drivers. In addition, DiDi supports more than 4,000 innovative SMEs, which provides more than 20,000 jobs additionally.[86]

Diversity: 40% of DiDi’s employees are women. In 2017, DiDi launched a female career development plan and the establishment of the "DiDi Women's Network". It is reportedly the first female-oriented career development plan in a major Chinese Internet company.[87]

Honors[edit]

  • 2015: DiDi was announced as a Davos Global Growth Company[88]
  • 2016: DiDi was included in Fortune “Change the World” list[85]
  • 2016: DiDi was named one of the World’s 50 Smartest Companies by MIT Technology Review[89]
  • 2017: DiDi was nominated as one of the best five startups for TechCrunch’s 10th Annual Crunchies Awards[90]
  • 2018: DiDi was included in Fast Company's "Top 10 Most innovative Companies in China" list[91]

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