News Dec 09, 2015 04:04 AM EST

Yahoo co-founder joins Didi Kuaidi

By Staff Writer

Didi Kuadi, largest car hailing app in China, has appointed Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang as a senior advisor and board observer to the ride-hailing app firm as it battles Uber technologies for market share in China. In a statement, the company said Yang's experience will help it build its mobile platform, which is already used by 250 million people in China. Both companies have stepped up their plans to expand in China recently, signaling tougher competition in the years ahead.

CNBC says that, Taiwan-born Mr Yang has a wealth of experience with China's internet sector, having been an early investor and board member of Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce giant that is an investor in Didi Kuaidi with a stake estimated in the low single digits. He is also an independent director on Lenovo's board.

Didi claims 250m users in 360 Chinese cities, with services ranging from taxis and private car hailing to chauffeurs and even buses. It says it has 80 per cent of the domestic private car service market, while rival Uber claims 30-35 per cent. Uber predicts that by the end of the year China will outpace the US to be its largest market.

According to The Straits Times, Mr. Yang's new positions at Didi Kuaidi add another link in the web of relations between the Chinese ride-hailing company and its investors, Alibaba and Japan's SoftBank Group Corp.

Mr. Yang, Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son all sit on the board of Alibaba. SoftBank was also an early investor in both Yahoo and the Chinese e-commerce behemoth, and the three men maintain close ties. Their plan is now to invest in Didi Kuaidi, the biggest ride-hailing rival to Uber.

SoftBank also owns stakes in other ride-hailing services that have forged a global anti-Uber alliance, namely India's Ola and South-east Asia's GrabTaxi. Didi Kuaidi and Alibaba also own stakes in the US arm of this faction, Lyft. Together, these companies are forming a worldwide alliance to take on Uber, which is reportedly seeking yet more funding that will raise its valuation to $62.5 billion, with much of the capital earmarked for expansion in Asia. 

Tech Crunch reports that, though all four companies-Didi Dache, Lyft, Ola, and GrabTaxi-have said that they plan to remain independent, their close relationship represents one of the biggest hurdles Uber faces as it seeks global dominance.

Didi Kuaidi's allegiance with some of China's biggest Internet firms also made itself felt this weekend when WeChat, which is owned by Tencent, said it would block Uber. Uber, however, isn't completely alone in China. Its main ally and investor there is Baidu, the maker of the country's largest search engine

Uber has grown aggressively worldwide with its matchmaker service for drivers and passengers, but the alliance of Didi Kauidi is going to give a tough competition to the US based Uber in Asia specially China.

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