The Lyft-Didi-GrabTaxi-Ola Alliance vs. Uber

Uber’s four biggest competitors – Lyft, Didi Kuaidi, GrabTaxi, Ola – have joined forces to take on the San Francisco-based startup. Fro...


Uber’s four biggest competitors – Lyft, Didi Kuaidi, GrabTaxi, Ola – have joined forces to take on the San Francisco-based startup. From next year onward, users will be able to book rides through any of these four service providers, from whichever app they are used to using at home – Lyft operates in the US, Ola in India, Didi Kuaidi dominates China and GrabTaxi has spread across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam. According to a joint press release by these four companies, they collectively cover USA, China, India and most of Southeast Asia, which is “nearly 50% of the world’s population”. 

With this newly forged alliance, the companies can share technology, market intelligence and resources. The collaborative service will begin in the first quarter of next year. This marks an important change and integration in the transportation technology industry, and one thing’s for sure – Uber has cause to shake in its boots.

Uber has up till now been the single largest provider of mobile ride-hailing service – it is valued at over US$50 billion, while estimated values of Didi Kuaidi, Ola, Lyft and GrabTaxi are US$15 billion, US$5 billion, US$2.5 billion and US$1.5 billion respectively.

Uber is present in 64 countries, but while its reach may be wide, it is not strong in every market. Members of this new alliance have given Uber tough competition in their territories. In India, for instance, Uber has presence in 22 cities, but Ola is available in 102. In the other populous market, China, Uber can be used in 15 cities while users from as many as 300 cities can use Didi Kuaidi to book a ride.

For now, the four allies plan to remain independent and grow their regional strengths, rather than ponder a future merger. Techcrunch.com quoted a Didi Kuaidi spokesperson as saying, “The idea is not to merge and acquire but to find people we can work with. In China we have an urban population of 800 million but we are only currently serving 250 million, so we have a lot of room to grow, and this population will always be our priority.”

We see a service tie-up as a natural progression that occurs in the technology space. It’s like how international roaming eventually became a norm – our phones can now rather seamlessly, and without much effort on our part, latch onto a “visited network” when we are in a different country. So it makes sense that mobile apps offering similar services would combine forces to offer a similar convenience to users. Of course, all four allies also share the same VC’s, most notably SoftBank who appears to want to take Uber down by investing heavily in its competitors.

image: Techcrunch.com

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