In its latest major investment in India, Japan’s SoftBank has teamed up with China’s Tencent and pumped in $2 billion in homegrown taxi-hailing service Ola, Bloomberg reports. While Ola’s new valuation could not be ascertained, the fresh funds would help it improve its local offering as well as fuel its expansion in select international geographies. This is SoftBank’s second-largest investment in an Indian startup after it poured more than $2 billion in e-commerce firm Flipkart earlier this year. Also Read - PUBG Mobile’s Indian version Battlegrounds Mobile India must be banned: AP MLA writes to PM ModiAlso Read - Ola to offer free oxygen concentrators to the needy
SoftBank has backed Ola since October 2014, when it led a $210 million-funding in the cab aggregator that valued it at $1 billion. Since then, Ola has grown to be one of India’s leading startups, and is Uber’s biggest rival in the $10 billion domestic ride-hailing market. The funding comes at a time when Uber is extending driver incentives and rolling out new features on its app to attract more Indian riders. Ola, meanwhile, is gearing up to roll out its services in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, besides adding to its 110-city network in India. ALSO READ: Ola scouts for operations head in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; hints at international expansion Also Read - ByteDance acquires popular gaming studio Moonton to take on Tencent
For SoftBank, the investment is in line with its sustained interest in ride-hailing services across the world. The Masayoshi Son-owned firm counts China’s Didi Chuxing, Southeast Asia’s Grab, and Brazil’s 99 besides India’s Ola in its cab-hailing portfolio. It has gone on record to state that it is contemplating investing in either Uber or Lyft to mark its entry into the US. SoftBank s $100 billion Vision Fund is actively backing startups that have the potential to impact millions of lives across the globe. Some months ago, reports emerged that it was looking to take a “commanding” stake in the $69-billion Uber. ALSO READ: SoftBank keen to invest in either Uber or Lyft before entering America: Reports
Ola, meanwhile, has been on a fund-raising spree. Since last November, Ola has raised over $400 million in funds. Earlier this year, it was in talks with Tencent to raise about $400 million. It would have valued Ola at close to $4 billion, and diluted SoftBank s stake in the firm. However, with the current joint investment by Tencent and SoftBank, it is left to be seen how far Ola’s valuation soars. Also, the funding round isn t finished yet and the amount could change, according to reports. What remains constant though is Ola’s leadership status in the app-based taxi market in the country.