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Main article: Collaborative Consumption

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Airbnb wants to give its hosts equity in its business

16:19 | 23 September

Airbnb wants to give the homeowners who power its service the opportunity to own a piece of its business. That’s why, as Axios reports, the $31-billion-valued company has written to the SEC to ask if its rules around security ownership can be revised.

Specifically, Airbnb is seeking a change to the SEC’s Rule 701 — which governs ownership of equity in companies — to allow a new kind of shareholder class for workers who participate in gig economy companies and their services. Uber, for one, has met with the SEC to propose a similar allowance but Airbnb’s argument is laid out in a letter that you can read here (thanks to Axios.)

“As a sharing economy marketplace, Airbnb succeeds when these hosts succeed,” the company wrote in one passage. “We believe that enabling private companies to grant hosts and other sharing economy participants equity in the company from an earlier stage would further align incentives between such companies and their sharing economy participants to the benefit of both.”

Airbnb is said to be planning to go public potentially as soon as next year.

While it isn’t clear how earning equity might work for an Airbnb host — or an Uber or Lyft driver, for that matter — further amendment of rules would be required. Currently, SEC regulations require that any private company with over 2,000 shareholders or 500 or more who are not U.S. accredited investors, must be registered.

That’s clearly a problem for Airbnb which has grown to more than five million listings since its foundation in 2008. It remains to be seen how many of those homeowners could own equity even were the rules amended to allow it. More generally, though, gig economy startups won’t pursue the equity options for contractors if doing so then triggers mandatory SEC reporting whilst they are private entities.

Then there are additional complications for businesses that have expanded outside of the U.S. market. Most of Airbnb’s are located overseas — the service claims to offer lodgings across some 81,000 cities in over 190 countries — which makes handing out U.S-based equity tricky.

Still, Airbnb’s public acknowledgment of its hosts and the crucial role they play is a positive part of that relationship. That’s something rare, for sure.

Most of the discussion around the role between marketplace provider and gig economy worker has been negative, with Uber in particular keen to distinguish between contractor and company staff.

While this modern take on working gives those who choose it a degree of flexibility like never before, they are left without the standard perks of being a conventional employee, such as paid vacation, benefits, overtime, health insurance and more. A slew of startups have sprouted to help cover some of those gaps, but their solutions all come at a cost to the worker, many of whom are already financially stretched.

 


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Go-Jek plans to raise $2B more for Southeast Asia ride-hailing battle

15:08 | 17 September

Indonesia’s Go-Jek is planning to raise $2 billion from investors to fuel its ride-hailing battle with Grab in Southeast Asia.

Go-Jek raised $1.5 billion earlier this year from investors that include Chinese trio Tencent, Meituan and JD.com, as well as Google, Allianz and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek. Now it is planning to raise a further $2 billion, two sources with knowledge of details told TechCrunch, as it seeks to expand on numerous fronts.

Those plans include both extending the scope of its services in Indonesia — where beyond rides it offers services on demand and financial products — and moving into new markets. The company recently went live in Vietnam, its first expansion, and it has plans to enter Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore this year.

Bloomberg first reported the fundraising plans, although a source told TechCrunch that the deal is far from being done. Existing investors — which also include KKR and Warburg Pincus — are likely to provide the new capital.

Word of Go-Jek’s financing plan comes after Grab raised $2 billion this summer, including a $1 billion contribution from Toyota. The Singapore-based company — which bought out Uber’s business earlier this yearrecently said it plans to raise a further $1 billion before 2018 is out.

That money is likely to be spent on Grab’s ongoing strategy to broaden into services. That’s seen Grab follow Go-Jek’s lead and move into groceries, on-demand services and fintech as part of a desire to be Southeast Asia ‘super app’ for a broad range of local services.

Grab is also doubling down on Indonesia, where it recently announced plans to invest $250 million in local startups. While Go-Jek is largely seen as the dominant player in Indonesia, which is Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth most populous country, Grab claims to handle 65 percent of all rides and transactions in the country.

Go-Jek’s most recent valuation was $5 billion. Investors valued Grab at $11 billion when its recent round closed in August.

 


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Uber fires up its own traffic estimates to fuel demand beyond cars

20:18 | 16 September

If the whole map is red and it’s a short ride, maybe you’d prefer taking an Uber JUMP Bike instead of an UberX. Or at least if you do end up stuck bumper-to-bumper, the warning could make you less likely to get mad mid-ride and take it out on the driver’s rating.

This week TechCrunch spotted Uber overlaying blue, yellow, and red traffic condition bars on your route map before you hail. Responding to TechCrunch’s inquiry, Uber confirmed that traffic estimates have been quietly testing for riders on Android over the past few months and the pilot program recently expanded to a subset of iOS users. It’s already live for all drivers.

The congestion indicators are based on Uber’s own traffic information pulled from its historic trip data about 10 billion rides plus real-time data from its drivers’ phones, rather than estimates from Google that already power Uber’s maps.

If traffic estimates do roll out, they could make users more tolerant of longer ETAs and less likely to check a competing app since they’ll know their driver might take longer to pick them up because congestion is to blame rather than Uber’s algorithm. During the ride they might be more patient amidst the clogged streets.

Uber’s research into traffic in India

But most interestingly, seeing traffic conditions could help users choose when it’s time to take one of Uber’s non-car choices. They could sail past traffic in one of Uber’s new electric JUMP Bikes, or buy a public transportation ticket from inside Uber thanks to its new partnership with Masabi for access to New York’s MTA plus buses and trains in other cities. Cheaper and less labor intensive for Uber, these options make more sense to riders the more traffic there is. It’s to the company’s advantage to steer users towards the most satisfying mode of transportation, and traffic info could point them in the right direction.

Through a program called Uber Movement, the company began sharing its traffic data with city governments early last year. The goal was to give urban planners the proof they need to make their streets more efficient. Uber has long claimed that it can help reduce traffic by getting people into shared rides and eliminating circling in search of parking. But a new study showed that for each mile of personal driving Uber and Lyft eliminated, they added 2.8 miles of professional driving for an 180 percent increase in total traffic.

Uber is still learning whether users find traffic estimates helpful before it considers rolling them out permanently to everyone. Right now they only appear on unshared UberX, Black, XL, SUV, and Taxi routes before you hail to a small percentage of users. But Uber’s spokesperson verified that the company’s long-term goal is to be able to tell users that the cheapest way to get there is option X, the cheapest is option Y, and the most comfortable is option Z. Traffic estimates are key to that. And now that it’s had so many cars on the road for so long, it has the signals necessary to predict which streets will be smooth and which will be jammed at a given hour.

For years, Uber called itself a logistics company, not a ride sharing company. Most people gave it a knowing wink. Every Silicon Valley company tries to trump up its importance by claiming to conquer a higher level of abstraction. But with advent of personal transportation modes like on-demand bikes and scooters, Uber is poised to earn the title by getting us from point A to point B however we prefer.

 


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Instacart brings on Mark Schaaf as Chief Technology Officer

17:00 | 11 September

Instacart has brought on Mark Schaaf as Chief Technology Officer.

Schaaf previously held positions at AdMob, which was acquired by Google in 2009 for $750 million. From there, he went on to build and lead a team at Google within the mobile display ad business. In 2015, Schaaf left Google to join Thumbtack as CTO.

Schaaf has been working on marketplace businesses since 2006, and explained that Instacart represents a particularly interesting marketplace to continue scaling.

“Thumbtack is a more consumer-focused marketplace with local service professionals and consumers, but Instacart gets even more complex,” said Schaaf. “It’s a four-sided marketplace, and then you overlay it with logistics. The goal is to make the physical world better with technology, and to build a tech core that solves a problem in the physical world.”

Though the company wouldn’t disclose current numbers around engineers, Schaaf plans to double the size of the engineering team by the end of 2019. According to Schaaf, there are a number of different marketplace dynamics at play to keep the engineering team busy: balancing supply and demand, logistics and routing, efficient batching and routing, and overlaying geography to all of that.

“When you think of all that, it brings up the classic engineering problem of the traveling salesman,” said Schaaf. “This will take a lot of data science modeling and algorithmic work, a lot of AI and machine learning, to make Instacart as efficient as possible.”

Instacart has been on a bit of a hiring spree lately, bringing on David Hahn as Chief Product Officer and Dani Dudeck as its first Chief Communications Officer. TechCrunch also learned that Instacart’s Chief Growth Officer Elliot Shmukler made plans to leave last month, which may signal that another C-Suite hire is imminent.

 


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Didi makes more safety changes — and will pause night services while it does

17:39 | 4 September

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi has detailed further safety measures incoming to its platform following a second murder of a female passenger last month.

The 20-year-old woman had been using Didi’s Hitch carpooling service in Zhejiang, a province in the east of China, during the day.

Another female user of the p2p service was murdered in May, after getting a late night ride back from her job as an air stewardess. The unverified driver had apparently been using an account belonging to his father (who had been verified by Didi).

The new safety features, which include a button to call the police, are set to be phased in over the coming days.

Didi says it will temporarily suspend late-night Taxi, Express, Uber China, Didi Select, Didi Express Pool, Premier and Luxe services each day, between 23:00 until 5:00 — from September 8 to 15 — on the Chinese mainland while it does this. So it’s temporarily shutting down a large swathe of its services overnight for a week on safety grounds.

During this time, it says its Bike, Designated Driving, Bus, overseas Car Rental and used-car services will remain operational, and it urges users to plan their travel accordingly.

After the first murder Didi made some changes to how the Hitch service operates, temporarily suspending late night rides before resuming them in June — but only allowing drivers to pick up passengers of the same sex.

The second murder in August triggered a nationwide service suspension, and a spokeswoman confirmed to TechCrunch today that the Hitch service remains indefinitely suspended (“until there is a safety protection mechanism that is accepted by our users”).

In the wake of the murders, Didi’s handling of passenger safety has come in for acute criticism.

In the second case, it emerged that the driver had been flagged to Didi’s safety team by another female passenger the day before the murder — yet the customer service representative had failed to follow the new company policy of initiating an investigation within two hours — a policy that had been instigated after the earlier murder in May.

Didi fired the general manager for the Hitch service and its vice president of customer services. But it also managed to sound horribly tone-deaf in its response last month when it shoehorned ride completion numbers into its apology statement as if any metric could justify its failure to ensure passenger safety.

While Hitch remains suspended the company offers a plethora of other ride-hailing services and the measures announced today look intended to reduce the risk for users across its service more broadly.

Among the new safety measures it’s announced is a change to the operation of an SOS button — which it only launched in July. Instead of the one-click button alerting a user’s chosen emergency contacts it will directly dial the police in future.

Didi says it will also be added a Safety Center to its passenger app to offer quick access to various safety features, including the new “call police” button, as well as itinerary sharing.

It also plans to run a nationwide awareness campaign to ensure users know about the new features and are encouraged to set up contacts for itinerary sharing.

Additionally, the company says it will start trialing an on-route audio recording function on its Express and Premier services. “This will help to protect drivers and passengers while ensuring the recordings are encrypted and stored according to rigorous data protection protocol,” it writes.

Other changes to its operations are an upgrade to its driver safety education program — with the company saying drivers must complete a safety knowledge test every day before they start service.

Didi also says it will step up its driver background checks and daily use of facial recognition tech as part of its inspection checks to pick up driver-vehicle mismatch, which was launched in May (after the system had failed to picked up the driver who was using his father’s account).

The company adds that it will continue to cooperate with the police to “crack down on criminal offenses at all costs”, adding: “We will adopt a zero-tolerance policy against lawless behavior.”

It also flags additional investments in customer service — saying it will beef up its in-house team to 8,000 staff by the end of the year up from 5,000 currently, although it has also leaned on 10,000 subcontracted customers service reps — so is evidently seeking to bring more of that operation in-house (presumably to shrink the risk of any similarly fatal complaint handling errors in future).

“Didi will make all-out efforts to build an extensive societal partnership to ensure our core safety standards and protect the interests and rights of our law-abiding driver-partners in accordance with the authorities’ expectations,” it writes. “We will share progress and reviews of the rectification period with the public.”

Last month, after the second Didi murder, the Chinese government announced incoming reforms of the transportation industry to improve passenger safety. So the threat of tighter regulation is looming.

 


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China’s Didi suspends carpooling service after another female passenger is mudered

10:30 | 26 August

Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing, the $60 billion-valued company that bought out Uber’s China business, has suspended its carpooling service after the murder of a female passenger. The fatally is the second such incident this year after a passenger was murdered in May.

Police this weekend arrested a man who is accused of raping and killing a 20-year-old female who rode with him via Didi’s Hitch service on Friday in Zhejiang, a province in the east of China. Reuters reports that the woman had messaged her friend earlier in the day asking for help before she disappeared.

Authorities in Zhejiang city Leqing suspended the service before Didi later announced it would suspend Hitch nationwide.

“We are sorry the Hitch service… would be suspended for now because of our disappointing mistakes,” Didi said in a statement.

Hitch is a modern take on hitchhiking that lets a passenger ride for free with a driver headed in their direction. Passengers are encouraged to leave a tip to cover petrol, but the idea is to make each car ride more efficient. Didi doesn’t monetize the service, but it is a strategic way to attract passengers and drivers who may use other services that the firm does draw revenue from.

Didi claims Hitch has handled over a billion trips in the past three years, but there are major safety issues.

This new murder occurred a little over three months after an air stewardess was killed in Henan province by a driver who got on to Didi’s platform using an account belonging to his father, a verified Didi driver. Following that incident, Didi suspended Hitch for six weeks. The service resumed in June with a number of restrictions, in particular, one that only allowed drivers to serve passengers of the same sex during late night hours.

This fatal Zhejiang ride occurred at 1pm, according to police, and there’s plenty to be concerned with.

Didi said in a statement that the alleged murderer, who does not have a criminal record, had been flagged to Didi’s safety team just one day before. A female passenger complained that the driver had requested her to ride in the front seat and then followed her for some time after she left his vehicle.

The Didi safety center representative who handled the complaint had not followed company policy of initiating an investigation within two hours, according to Reuters. That policy was introduced during the suspension period after Didi discovered another passenger had flagged suspicious behavior from the driver who then went on to commit the murder in May.

“The incident shows the many deficiencies with our customer service processes, especially the failure to act swiftly on the previous passenger’s complaint and the cumbersome and rigid process of information sharing with the police. This is too high a cost to pay. We plead for law enforcement and the public to work with us in developing more efficient and practical collaborative solutions to fight criminals and protect user personal and property safety,” Didi said in a statement.

The company confirmed that it has fired two executives following the murder: the general manager for Hitch and the company’s vice president of customer services.

Didi said it will launch a “co-supervisory process of our operations” which it invited members of the public and experts to take part in.

Following the murder in May, Didi said it has booked “proactive consultation sessions with relevant authorities and experts” as it sought to shore up its safety processes.

Didi has operated a virtual monopoly on ride-hailing services since it acquired and integrated Uber’s China business in 2016, but this year it has seen increased competition.

In particular, Didi is facing pressure from rival Meituan Dianping, which started out in local services but recently introduced ride-sharing services and moved into dockless bikes with the acquisition of Mobike. Meituan recently filed to go public in Hong Kong, with some reports suggesting it could raise as much as $4 billion.

Meituan is involved in a dogfight with Alibaba to win China’s local services market — Alibaba just amped up its efforts with a $3 billion raise for its Ele.me business unit — but no doubt Meituan will now doubly focus on its own safety and security measures to push its case as a legitimate alternative to Didi.

Didi has gone to great pains to emphasize that Hitch is well used — it hamfistedly shoved a mention of the service’s ride completion numbers into its apology statement — but at this point it seems best to shutter the service if it can’t guarantee the safety of all passengers, no matter how popular or strategic it may be.

 


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Southeast Asia’s Grab plans electric vehicle push

16:38 | 23 August

Grab, the ride-hailing company that consumed Uber’s business in Southeast Asia, today made a big push to grow the number of electric vehicles in its fleet after it partnered with energy supplier Singapore Power.

The deal will see Grab add 200 new ‘fast-charging’ EVs to its fleet in Singapore with SP providing “preferential” pricing at the organization’s charging stations. Grab said drivers who opt for an EV — which will be “progressively rolled out” from early 2019 — can expect to increase their earnings by as much as 25 percent over drivers using petrol engines thanks to SP’s ‘mates’ rate.’

The partnership with SP is important to Grab because infrastructure such as charging stations and cost savings are crucial to persuading the most active car drivers to make a move to electric. Ride-sharing drivers certainly rank in the group that can make a difference.

SP has committed to operating 500 charging stations by 2020, which would become Singapore’s largest of its kind. An initial 30 are expected to be up and running before the end of this year and, when ready, Grab said they will charge its upcoming EV model in just 40 mins. Each charge would allow 400km of driving, the company added.

Grab said it has a number EVs within in its Singapore fleet today — it declined to disclose numbers but claimed it is “the largest electric and hybrid vehicle fleet in Southeast Asia” — but these charging stations and the potential to earn additional income are sure to help boost that number, whatever it may be.

This initiative applies to Singapore, but a Grab spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company intends to expand its EV fleet regionally in due time. The company didn’t provide any specifics on that plan, however.

Grab operates in seven countries in Southeast Asia, but Singapore is the most advanced in terms of EV infrastructure. The company recently raised $2 billion from Toyota and othersIt acquired Uber’s regional business in March and today it claims over 100 million downloads with more than two billion rides completed to date. Grab recently claimed its annual revenue run rate has surpassed $1 billion, but it has not provided profit or loss numbers.

Outside of electric, Grab has previously forayed into self-driving vehicles through a partnership with Nutonomy. That relationship appears to have ended after Nutonomy was acquired by auto firm Delphi last year. A month before that deal, Grab made an investment in another self-driving car startup, Drive.ai, which said it planned to open an office in Singapore.

 


0

Uber is on a hiring spree in Singapore despite ‘exiting’ Southeast Asia

11:58 | 15 August

Uber agreed to sell its Southeast Asia business in March, but it isn’t leaving the region. In fact, the U.S. firm is doubling down with plans to more than double its staff in Singapore.

That’s right. Uber is currently in the midst of a major recruitment drive that will see Singapore, the first city it expanded to in Asia, remain its headquarters for the Asia Pacific region despite its local exit. Unfortunately for customers who miss having a strong alternative to Grab, Uber won’t be bringing its ride-hailing app back in Singapore or anywhere else in Southeast Asia.

Uber’s own job portal lists 19 open roles for Singapore, but the company has contacted headhunting and recruitment firms to help fill as many as 75 vacancies, three sources with knowledge of Uber’s hiring plans told TechCrunch.

The new hires will take Uber’s headcount in Singapore to well over 100 employees, the sources claimed.

Ironically, of course, Uber let most of its staff in Southeast Asia leave when it stopped serving customers across its eight markets in Southeast Asia in April — although it was forced to extend into May in Singapore. As part of its exit deal, Grab got first dibs on 500 or so Uber Southeast Asia staff but that strategy didn’t pan out as planned, as TechCrunch previously reported. Indeed, a recent report suggested that fewer than 10 percent of ‘Uberites’ moved over to become ‘Grabbers’.

And yet, here we are, Uber is aggressively hiring in Singapore — but why?

The original plan following the Grab deal was for Uber to relocate its regional headquarters to either Japan or Hong Kong, two sources told TechCrunch, but in recent months that strategy has shifted. Just weeks ago, the remaining Singapore Uber collective — which consists of managers and executives — secured budget to staff up and find a larger office in the name of creating a support team for its remaining Asia Pacific markets.

The plan is for the Singapore-based employees to provide services such as HR, accounting, admin, marketing and PR across Uber APAC, which includes Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia and India — although the latter has more sovereignty with its own president who reports into the U.S..

An Uber spokesperson acknowledged that the company is in the process of hiring in Singapore, but declined to provide further details.

Sources with knowledge of discussions inside the company told TechCrunch that the decision to stay in Singapore is down to a number of reasons.

Hong Kong, which had been a frontrunner to become Uber’s new APAC HQ, was ruled because Uber’s legal status in the country is unclear — a number of drivers have been prosecuted — while Japan and Australia were deemed to be too remote to be regional hubs. That left Singapore, as an established city for business with an existing Uber staff, as the remaining option.

Sources also told TechCrunch, however, that a degree of self-service was involved. Those executives and managers who managed to remove themselves from the “shame” of being shipped to Grab dug their heels in to avoid relocating their lives and families elsewhere, two sources claimed.

Talking to TechCrunch, some former Uber staff questioned whether the remaining Asian markets require remote services from Singapore, which is one of the world’s most expensive cities. Together the countries are hardly huge revenue generators for Uber and could be handled locally or other global cities. There’s certainly an argument that the continued investment in Singapore is at odds with the widely-held theory that Uber left Southeast Asia, a money-losing market, to clean up its balance sheet ahead of a much-anticipated IPO next year.

One former Uber employee who did transition to Grab noticed that the U.S. firm is now hiring for their previous role. That situation is made worse by a ban that prevented Uber’s Southeast Asia employees from applying to transfer to other parts of the firm’s global business. That’s despite many being allowed to do so in the case of previous Uber exit deals in China and Russia.

The result is that Uber is hiring in Singapore, a market where it no longer offers its service and gave up most of its staff to its rival. Anything can happen in the ride-sharing space!

 


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China’s Didi beefs up its newly-independent car services business with an acquisition

10:04 | 14 August

A week after spinning out its driver services business and giving it $1 billion in investment capital, Didi Chuxing has added to it through an acquisition.

Xiaoju Automobile Solutions (XAS), which the Didi spinout is called, announced today it has bought Hiservice, a three-year-old company that provides after-service care for car owners using a digital platform.

The deal was undisclosed, but XAS said that Hiservice will be combined with its maintenance and repair division to form a new unit that’s focused on car-owner services such as maintenance, parts and components. That’ll be called Xiaoju Auto Care (小桔养车) for those of you who are keeping up with the names of these Didi subsidiaries.

That auto care business will be jointly run by Yinbo Yi, who had run Didi’s auto care business, and Hiservice founder Cheng Qian, Didi confirmed. The new business claims 28 physical maintenance centers across seven cities in Asia.

Didi’s move to create XAS, which removes an asset-heavy business from the core Didi books, is seen by many as a sign that the company plans to go public soon. Unsurprisingly, Didi isn’t commenting on that at this point. The company was last valued at $56 billion when it raised a $4 billion round late last year — it has since added a $500 million strategic investment from travel company Booking Holdings.

While it is organizing its China-based business, Didi has also spent this year expanding into new markets. It has launched in Mexico, Australia and Taiwan while it acquired Uber rival 99 in Brazil. It is also edging close to launching a taxi-booking service in Japan via a joint venture with SoftBank.

 


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India’s Uber rival Ola is headed Europe with ride-hailing launch in the UK

09:36 | 7 August

The UK is getting another alternative to Uber after India-based ride-hailing company Ola announced plans to expand to the country, which becomes its first market in Europe.

Ola was founded in 2010 and it covers over 110 cities in India where it offers licensed taxis, private hire cars and rickshaws through a network of over one million drivers. The company has raised around $3 billion from investors that include SoftBank, Chinese duo Tencent and Didi Chuxing and DST Global . It was last valued at $7 billion. Ola ventured overseas for the first time when it launched in Australia earlier this year — it is now in seven cities there — and its move into the UK signals a further expansion into Europe.

Ola’s UK service isn’t live right now, but the company said it will begin offering licensed taxi and private hire bookings initially in South Wales and Greater Manchester “soon.” Ola plans to expand that coverage nationwide before the end of this year. That will eventually mean taking on Uber and Taxify another unicorn startup backed by Didi — in London and other major cities.

So, why the UK?

Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal called the country “a fantastic place to do business” and added that he “look[s] forward to providing a responsible, compelling, new service that can help the country meet its ever demanding mobility needs.”

It’s no secret that Uber has struggled in London, where its gung-ho attitude to business — ‘launch first, apologize later’ — has seen it run into issues with regulators. Uber (just about) won a provisional 15-month transport license earlier this year following an appeal against the city’s transportation regulator, Transport for London (TfL) earlier rejected its application.

The’ New Uber’ — under CEO Dara Khosrowshahi — is trying to right the wrongs of the past, but compliance with regulators takes time and requires wholesale changes to business, operations and company culture.

Ola isn’t commenting directly on its rivalry with Uber — we did ask, but got a predictable “no comment” — but the tone of its announcement today shows it is focused on being a more collaborative player than Uber.

Indeed, there’s been much groundwork. Aggarwal met with regulators in London last year and he said in a statement released today that he plans “continued engagement with policymakers and regulators” as the Ola service expands across the UK.

International expansion is very much part of Ola’s ambition to go public, which Aggarwal recently said could happen in the next three to four years. But Ola isn’t alone in looking overseas. Didi, the firm that defeated Uber in China and has backed Ola, Taxify and many others, has also been busy moving into new markets.

Last year, the firm raised $4 billion to double down on technology, AI and go overseas and it has come good on that promise by entering MexicoAustralia and Taiwan. It also landed Brazil through the acquisition of local player and Uber rival 99 and it is preparing to go live in Japan, where it will operate a taxi-booking service through a joint venture with SoftBank.

 


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