Cab hailing service Uber has raised $3.5 billion from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the company confirmed. This development comes less than a month after Apple invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing (formerly known as Didi Kuaidi).
An Uber spokesperson told MediaNama that the investment is part of the global fund and will be utilised in strategic markets like India. In India, the company has been locked in battle with Ola, and these new funds will be a welcome addition. Interestingly, Mint reports that the $3.5 billion raised now is part of a $5 billion round.
Funding from Microsoft, BCCL and TOF
In August last year, Uber had raised around $1 billion in funding from Microsoft and The Times Group’s parent company Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited (BCCL). This happened a few days after Uber had said that it would pump $1 billion into its India operations over the next 6-9 months to improve its operators, expand to other cities, develop new products and payment solutions and set up a better support network.
Later the same month, Tata Opportunities Fund (TOF) invested an undisclosed amount in Uber, to expand its services and solutions in India, by making use of TOF’s network within the Tata Group and outside of it. It’s worth noting that Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, had earlier invested an undisclosed amount in rival service Ola in his personal capacity.
Can Ola keep up?
Ola had raised funding worth $500 million from Baillie Gifford, Falcon Edge Capital, Tiger Global, SoftBank Group, DST Global and China’s Didi Kuaidi, in November last year. The company said the funds will be used for growth related activities and mobility solutions. Following this round of funding, Ola’s total external funding stood at over $1.3 billion, of which $1.2 billion had been raised across 2015. It’s worth noting that Didi Kuaidi had participated in Ola’s $225 million round of funding, in September last year.
Global taxi alliance across Southeast Asia
Late last year, America’s Lyft, Ola from India, Didi Kuaidi from China, and GrabTaxi from Singapore joined hands in a strategic alliance to roll out features and services in the first quarter of 2016, to take on Uber. Dubbed the anti-Uber alliance, they already had one service live: American Lyft users could hail a cab in China through Didi and GrabTaxi in Southeast Asia. Now Grab taxi has launched a new feature that will allow Grab users to hail a Lyft using the Grab app during their travels in the U.S. And the transactions will happen in their local currency.