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Ola secures US$2B funding from SoftBank, Tencent to catch up with Uber in India: Report

RNT Associates and a few US-based institutional investors also co-invested in this funding round which is not closed yet

India’s home-grown cab aggregator Ola has secured US$2 billion in fresh funding from a group of investors, including SoftBank‘s investment arm SIMI Holdings and Tencent, says a Bloomberg report quoting unnamed persons familiar with the matter.

RNT Associates, a VC fund jointly run by Ratan Tata and the University of California’s investment arm, besides a few US-based institutional investors, also co-invested in this round, the report added. As per one of the persons, the investment round is not closed yet and the size of the funding could change.

The fresh investment will help Ola to “continue its focus on India and build both its supply of vehicles and drivers as well as strategic technology to help it win against Uber”, said the report.

The new funding follows Ola’s US$36 million funding from New York-based hedge fund Tekne Capital Management in August this year.

Ola, founded in Jan 2011 by IIT Bombay alumni Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, is an online cab and auto rickshaw booking platform. Using the Ola app, users across 100 cities can book from over 100,000 vehicles. The Ola app is currently available on Windows, Android and iOS platforms.

Also Read: Ola, Uber asked to stop ride-sharing service in Bangalore

Two years ago, Ola raised US$500 million in its Series F round of funding, led by UK-based investment firm Baillie Gifford. Existing investors Falcon Edge Capital, Tiger Global, SoftBank Group, and DST Global, aside from Chinese mobile transportation giant Didi Kuaidi, had also participated.

In December 2015, leading on-demand taxi hailing companies Didi Kuaidi, Ola, Lyft and GrabTaxi joined forces to give global giant Uber a run for its money. Under this partnership, the four taxi-hailing leaders would enable international travellers to access local on-demand rides by using the same application, even if they use in their respective countries. Through this, the firms aimed to cover a major part of Southeast Asia, India, China and the US, starting in the first quarter of 2016.

The company has been locked in a bitter battle with Uber, which has aggressively been expanding in India, the second fastest-growing market in the globe, ever since its arrival to the Indian streets in 2012. Ola had several run-ins with the US company over nationality and pricing, and both also had some fights with the government over regulatory hurdles. Last July, Ola alleged that Uber was attempting “to trivialise a horrific” rape incident involving its driver by dragging the Mumbai-based firm into the controversy.

Both the firms claim supremacy over others, but most users have now started preferring Uber for the quality of services and the fleet.

Uber has also raised the bar by incentivising drivers and offering promotions to customers.

Uber recently introduced uberMOTO, which aims to give riders motorcycle ride at the push of a button, through the Uber app. Riders receive driver and bike details just as they do for other Uber rides, as well as all standard safety features before, during and after the ride including GPS tracking, two-way feedback and the ability to share trip details with family and friends. Uber also recently launched its food delivery service UberEATS in India, which enables registered users to order food from its partner restaurants and get it delivered at their home.

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