China’s Didi raises over $5.5b in record tech funding

The Didi Chuxing application is displayed on a smartphone screen in this arranged photograph taken in Shanghai, China, on Sunday, May 22, 2016. Photo: Bloomberg

Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing raised more than $5.5 billion from investors, scoring the single largest round of funding on record to bankroll an expansion beyond China and into driver-less technology.

Didi disclosed the financing in an emailed statement but not the backers who joined this round. People familiar with the matter said this week that the investors would include SoftBank Group Corp., Silver Lake Kraftwerk, China Merchants Bank Co. and an arm of Bank of Communications Co. The round was said to have raised the four-year-old startup’s valuation to about $50 billion, up from a previous $34 billion after its acquisition of Uber Technologies Inc.’s China business.

That price tag surpasses smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.’s and makes Didi the world’s most valuable startup after Uber. The deal grants much-needed ammunition as Didi continues to fight Uber and Alphabet Inc. in automated driving. It also buys the company time to seek new revenue streams, after its most important source of income was hampered by more stringent Chinese regulations on driver qualifications.

Cities including Beijing and Shanghai have imposed stricter regulations that require drivers to be local residents, cutting out thousands from the countryside who had been willing to take chauffeur jobs to make a better living. Didi has won operating licenses in close to a dozen cities including Tianjin and Chengdu, affirming its right to legally operate in China.

The company hopes driver-less technology could help it overcome such hurdles in the future. Didi wants to take advantage of data on 400 million users across some 400 cities. It opened an artificial intelligence lab in Mountain View, California last month, called Didi Labs. It’s already lured dozens of stalwarts in the field including former Uber auto-security expert Charlie Miller, known for remotely hacking into a Jeep Cherokee in 2015.

Didi already counts more than 100 investors as backers including Tencent Holdings Ltd., Alibaba, Tiger Global Management and China’s sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. Its latest round exceeds the previous record for a single tech-industry funding set by Ant Financial, an Alibaba affiliate, in 2016, according to London-based researcher Preqin.

Also read:

Uber’s Kalanick should fear SoftBank founder & Didi backer Masayoshi Son

Chinese bike wars drive Didi, Tencent into rival camps

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.