The battle between ride-hailing apps Uber and Didi Chuxing in China took time, effort and resources before it was finally won. Needless to say, it was a two-year saga of competing market shares that kept investors on the edge of their seats.
Didi Chuxing conquered the Chinese market when it acquired Uber’s China operations for $1 billion in August. That amount included the latter’s brand, business and data. The combined company, aptly called Uber China, gave shareholders a 20% stake.
But just how did Didi Chuxing beat Uber in the country? A quick answer could be the fact that it had a home-court advantage, but there is so much more to look at.
Jean Liu, Didi Chuxing’s president, spoke with the Financial Times and shared her thoughts on the company’s feat. As it turned out, their success resulted from the marriage of two things: money and the constant belief in eventual success.
Didi Chuxing spent gargantuan sums on subsidies while hoping for favorable outcomes. It was a consistent formula the company used since the height of its battle against Uber. Liu stressed last year, “We wouldn’t be where we are today without burning cash.”
Now, the 38-year-old business executive has bigger storms to weather. She does not identify their competitive past with war:
“The war with Uber… Actually, I didn’t mean to say war, because it wasn’t a war. War is short term but when we talk about building something, that is long term.”
“[A] focus on winning and losing just limits your potential,” she added.
Liu aims to harness the advantages of big data and machine learning. She affirms Didi Chuxing’s need to accomplish big technological breakthroughs, citing one example:
“If you go downstairs and try to get a car, that’s easy. But if 100 people go downstairs and try to get a car, that wouldn’t work. Now think about it for a moment — what if the network knows that at this moment, 11:45 am, there will always be 100 people coming out of this building? And what if the network knows which directions they will be going? And what if the network knows the drivers around this area — where their destinations are? Then we can match perfectly.”
And where exactly is Didi Chuxing headed? Liu has already determined that (via Vanity Fair):
“We’re definitely going global. We’re a big sponsor and big believer in local players. If there are no existing local players, we’ll go there by ourselves. We will play a global game.”