Tencent and SoftBank join $1.1b round for Indian Uber rival Ola

The Bengaluru-based ride-hailing company has locked down $1.1 billion, bringing its total investment amount to around $4 billion.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

Ola, Uber's biggest rival in India, has raised $1.1 billion from lead investor Tencent, with contributions from SoftBank and other unnamed US investors.

The Bengaluru-based ride-hailing company, which has raised around $4 billion since its founding in 2010, is also in "advanced talks" with other investors for an additional $1 billion, it said in an announcement on Wednesday.

Ola said it will use the funds to improve its technology and the supply of taxis. It will also "make significant technology investments into artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to solve for India's unique mobility problems".

The company was founded in 2011 by IIT-Bombay alumni Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, prior to its US-based embattled competitor Uber entering the Indian market in 2013. Currently, Ola operates in 110 Indian cities compared to Uber's 29, and connects passengers to a range of "India-centric" transportation options including auto-rickshaws, bikes, and taxis.

"Ola's unique local offerings are tailored to India's burgeoning transportation needs. The strategic partnership with Ola makes it possible for Tencent to be part of the fast-growing ride-hailing space in the country. We look forward to helping Ola further develop India's transportation solutions," Martin Lau, president of Tencent Holdings, said in a statement.

Uber's biggest Southeast Asian rival Grab announced in July that SoftBank and Didi Chuxing would be leading its $2.5 billion Series G funding round.

The lead investors will contribute up to $2 billion combined in what is one of the largest funding rounds in Asia, after Didi's $5.5 billion round and Ant Financial's $4.5 billion round.

The on-demand transportation company -- which offers private car, motorbike, taxi, and carpooling services across seven countries, facilitating nearly 3 million rides daily -- said at the time it expects to close an additional $500 million from other investors.

Didi, which merged with Uber's China business in August 2016, first invested in Grab in 2015. The companies eventually formed a global anti-Uber alliance with their ride-sharing counterparts Lyft and Ola.

Didi has also made separate investments in Ola and Lyft, and recently led Brazil-based 99's $100 million round.

Didi had previously said it wants to create a "global mobility ecosystem".

SoftBank has also invested in Grab, leading its $250 million round back in 2014 as well as its $750 million round in September 2016.

The Japanese technology giant, which is also an investor in Ola and 99, is also expanding its footprint in the transportation industry, recently co-leading a $159 million round in technology company Nauto with Greylock Ventures.

Earlier this year, Indian ecommerce company Flipkart raised $1.4 billion in what was claimed the largest funding round by an Indian tech firm.

Editorial standards