Standing in front of a map featuring 100 Chinese cities, Travis Kalanick upped the ante on his ambitions there this week. The boss of Uber announced he’d secured a $1.2 billion investment in his standalone unit Uber China, with top Chinese search engine Baidu being one of the parties to pump more money in. Kalanick said he planned to use the funds to expand the car-hailing app’s presence from the 20 or so Chinese cities it operates in today to 100. And he wants to do so within a year.
Kalanick was in effusive form at the Baidu World event, saying Uber was creating 100,000 new jobs a month in China and that he “welcomed” forthcoming government regulations on car-hailing apps.
He admitted that breaking into the Chinese market hadn’t been easy and that the company faced staunch opposition from taxi firms and some of the local governments that licence taxi fleets (particularly in Chongqing and Guangzhou, where Uber has faced police raids). “Coming to China we’ve had to relearn everything that we do,” he said.
Kalanick says he needs the new funds to take on his cash-rich local rival Didi Kuaidi, which claims 80% market share. But the Silicon Valley tycoon disputes this, saying that Uber began the year with a 1% share of the Chinese car-hailing business, but that in nine months it has grown it to 35%.
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