Brazilian online firm 99 bets on high-tech to surpass Uber

With investment and technology capabilities from Chinese equivalent Didi Chuxing, the Brazil-based services company plans to become a local ridesharing leader

When car sharing firm Uber started its operations in Brazil, it left competitors a little disoriented and local companies working in the same space started to rapidly lose market share.

But one of them, São Paulo-based company 99, has reacted by changing its service proposition to focus on ridesharing and attracting a backer that could be instrumental in taking on its main rivals - including Uber, Cabify and Easy.

Last week, the company announced it has received a "strategic investment" from Chinese equivalent Didi Chuxing, who will provide a funding round estimated to be over $100m as well as expertise and support for 99 in areas such as "technology, product development, operations and business planning."

In addition, Didi - who took the number one spot in the Chinese ridesharing market from Uber last year - will share its "data-driven algorithmic capabilities", which will enable the Brazilian firm to better target its service offering to local users.

99 operates in 550 cities and, as well as Didi, it started out focusing on the taxi market - it has a user base of about 140,000 taxi drivers and 10 million users across Brazil. Both companies then started to target the ridesharing segment to follow changes in customer demand.

"99 is incredibly excited to partner with Didi, the world's largest and best ride-sharing platform. We welcome Didi to Latin America," Peter Fernandez, chief executive at 99, said in a statement.

"Didi's financing, state-of-art technology and operations knowledge will play a key supporting role as 99 actively expands our network and services in Brazil and reshapes the competitive landscape in Latin America."