Ratan Tata invests in Ola

Chairman emeritus of Tata Sons Ratan Tata has invested an undisclosed amount in online cab hailing service Ola in his personal capacity. Tata has been investing in the startup system and this marks his third investment in the year so far.

“Mr. Tata’s inclination towards transportation as a segment with the way he steered Tata Motors under his leadership at the group level is well known. … With Ola’s vision to impact mobility and transportation in India by creating a valuable citizen utility and a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, we look forward to seeking inspiration and learning from this association. ” Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder of Ola wrote on the company’s blog.

Ola now has 150,000 vehicles registered on its platform and is operational in 100 cities in the country. In March Ola acquired its rival TaxiForSure for $200 million. At the time it was said that both the companies will be operating independently and Ola had also earmarked $100 million for TaxiForSure’s expansion when it raised $400 million in a funding round led by DST Global. But earlier this month, Ola started integrating TaxiForSure’s hatchback cars into its own booking app. The integration will only be visible to Delhi and Mumbai users for starters and will be rolled out to other cities in phases over the next few weeks. TaxiForSure rides booked through Ola can only be paid for in cash. This could point to a more complete integration of the company.

This year, Tata also invested in women’s fashion portal Kaaryah,  Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi and online car portal


Uber expands to seven more cities in India

Global online taxi booking service Uber has expanded to seven more cities in India, namely – Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Indore, Mysore, Nagpur, Surat and Visakhapatnam. Uber says that this is largest number of new international cities the company has ever launched simultaneously. With the launch Uber is now live 18 cities in the country, making India the company’s largest geographic market outside the US.

Neeraj Singhal, head of expansion for India, said that the company is witnessing a 40% month-on-month growth in the country. We’re not sure what growth Uber is referring to – is it in terms of revenue or number of bookings? Uber declined to give further details on their expansion numbers.

Earlier this month, the Delhi Government rejected the radio taxi licence applications by Uber, Ola and TaxiForSure as the cab aggregators had not complied with the ban imposed in December.

In May, the company started testing out cash payments in Hyderabad. Globally, Uber does not accept cash payments in any other city and the company hopes that it can better understand customer behaviour and usage patterns so that it can deliver more efficient payment models in India.

In April, Uber launched an on-demand auto rickshaw service called uberAUTO on its platform in Delhi, which will allow users to book auto rickshaw rides in the city. Hired autos will ply at government approved metered fare and will have to be paid for in cash at the end of the ride.