India’s leading ride-hailing firm Ola is looking to launch in international markets as competition from Uber intensifies. Ola is planning to expand within the subcontinent for now, in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh specifically, reports suggest. It is scouting for an operations head in these two markets, as per a LinkedIn post by its talent acquisition team. The post was first spotted by Inc 42. The cab aggregator recently raised $50 million from hedge fund Tekne Capital, and those funds are likely to be utilized in expansion. At present, Ola operates in 110 Indian cities. In comparison, Uber reaches about 30 cities Also Read - Ola to offer free oxygen concentrators to the needyAlso Read - Ola India set to launch first electric scooter in 2021
While Uber has completed 500 million trips in India, it continues to trail Ola. In Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, however, Uber launched ahead of Ola, and might be leveraging the first-mover advantage. Within a year, Uber is the most popular way of commute in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. It has started accepting cash payments (like in India) as well as rolled out on-demand services like UberCHOPPER and UberPUPPIES. When we launched Uber in Sri Lanka back in 2015, it was an exciting alternative to get around the city. Today, Uber has fundamentally changed the way we move in Colombo, said Bhavik Rathod, General Manager, Uber India South & West and Sri Lanka, was quoted as saying. ALSO READ: Grab raises $2 billion from SoftBank and Didi Chuxing: Report Also Read - Uber cab service resumed in 31 cities in India with new Lockdown 4.0 guidelines
Ola, meanwhile, has been on a fund-raising spree. Earlier this year, it was reportedly in talks with China’s Tencent to raise about $400 million. Since last November, Ola has already raised over $400 million in funds. If the Tencent funding goes through, Ola’s valuation will rise to $4 billion. While most of the funding is to dilute SoftBank’s stake in the firm, parts of it would likely go towards newer operations as well. It’d be interesting to see how Ola’s global strategy shapes up considering the markets it is eyeing have existing local and international app-based taxi services. ALSO READ: SoftBank keen to invest in either Uber or Lyft before entering America: Reports
Moreover, with Uber rival Didi Chuxing going from strength to strength in Asia, and Ola’s global partner Lyft looking to expand beyond US, the international cab-hailing market is set to explode. SoftBank, which owns close to 40 percent in Ola, has multiple taxi aggregators in its portfolio. One of them is Indonesian service Grab, Uber’s primary rival in Southeast Asia, which is reportedly looking at an India entry. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think that SoftBank could start engineering a potential merger between two of its portfolio companies.