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Indian cab-hailing company Ola raises US$36M to fight close rival Uber

Software giant Microsoft is also in talks to invest between US$50 million and US$100 million in Mumbai-headquartered Ola

India’s home-grown cab-hailing company Ola has raised US$36 million from New York-based hedge fund Tekne Capital Management, said a VCCircle report citing its filing with the Registrar of Companies (India).

It is not clear if this is part of a larger round of funding. Earlier, there were reports that software giant Microsoft is in talks to invest between US$50 million and US$100 million in Ola. As per some other reports in October last year, its existing investor SoftBank is also looking to invest up to US$300 million in the Mumbai-headquartered firm.

This funding will give Ola the much-needed ammunition to fight the battle against its close rival Uber, which has captured a significant marketshare since its entry into India in 2013.

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. Early last month, 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 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.

 Image Credit: Ola
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