Tech in Asia — Starting today, Uber is keeping a very close eye on its drivers to ensure they give a smooth ride to passengers across Asia. The startup is doing this by tapping into the data available from their driver’s smartphones, which will give away any sudden swerves, excessive braking, or over-enthusiastic acceleration.
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said today it’s launching a probe into the planned merger of Didi Chuxing with Uber’s China unit. A ministry spokesperson tells Reuters that it’s due to anti-monopoly concerns about the US$35 billion tech company that will result from the merger and which will totally dominate car-hailing and taxi-booking in the China market.
Times of India — In March, Ola’s largest investor, Soft-Bank, declared that the cab aggregator controlled 85% of India’s taxi market. Uber India chief executive Amit Jain told ET that Uber is as big as Ola in India in terms of completed trips. Their battle can only get more intense. Jain, in an interview, said the San Francisco-based Uber, which last week raised $3.5 billion (about Rs 23,000 crore) from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, will continue to invest in India to increase its pool of drivers, improve technology, and add categories such as bike taxis. Edited excerpts:
Tech in Asia — Till now, if you were an Uber user in India who wanted to hail a cab anywhere outside the country, you would have had to mandatorily register a credit card on your account. But most Indian internet users don’t have a credit card. India, with its over 350 million internet users, has just 21 million credit card users. But today onwards, Paytm wallet users can hail an Uber cab and pay with the online wallet at any of the 400-odd cities Uber runs in. Paytm has tied up with Uber for this.
Tech in Asia — Uber and Alibaba’s spin-off mobile payments service today announced the launch of a joint program to allow Chinese ride-hailers to use Alipay to pay for their trips anywhere in the world. The first inklings of this deal came in February, when the companies announced that mainland Chinese users would be able to use their Alipay accounts to pay for rides in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Today’s news expands that scope to include all of the 400-plus cities where Uber operates around the world.
Tech in Asia — Remember the day Indonesia’s capital was practically held hostage by out-of-control taxi drivers? A violent street protest on March 22 in Jakarta was the climax of a series of demonstrations staged by Indonesia’s taxi industry in an attempt to get apps like Uber and Grab banned.
Tech in Asia — As Ashuvinder Ahuja says, epiphanies happen at very strange times. He got his in the middle of scorching Delhi heat, and it involved watching his wife wait for a school bus. “I was working from home, and I could see my wife waiting outside,” the George Mason alum told Tech in Asia. He has previously worked for user engagement company WebEngage and data protection software company Druva.
Times of India — BOAO, CHINA: Ride hailing app company Uber Technologies is generating more than $1 billion in profit a year in its top 30 cities globally, and partly using that money to bankroll its expansion in China, chief executive Travis Kalanick said in an interview. The company said in February it was losing more than $1 billion a year in China’s red-hot ride hailing market, where it is battling large local incumbents to win customers.
Tech in Asia — Uber is testing cash payments in Malaysia, in the city of Johor Bahru, a place where Singaporeans like to go for cheap shopping and seafood. It’s the first city in Malaysia to have cash payments on the app. “Cash is the dominant payment option for residents and visitors in cities across Malaysia,” says Leon Foong, general manager of Uber Malaysia. The company has rolled out cash payments in dozens of cities, including 27 in India. Uber users in cities in the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia also have this option.
Times of India — JAKARTA: Over a thousand taxi drivers in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta held a protest strike against mobile transportation applications such as Uber and GrabTaxi. Taxi drivers and other public transportation drivers rallied in the city centre since 9.00 am, EFE news reported.
Times of India — NEW DELHI: A clutch of startups on Friday asked Uber’s global chief technical officer Thuan Pham how over-hiring could be avoided when building a company. “Ask what problem your company has to solve and find a person with the right skill-sets,” said Pham, who was addressing entrepreneurs as part of the company’s mentorship session ‘UberEXCHANGE’, at IIT Delhi.
Times of India — BENGALURU: Uber has set up Asia’s first engineering centre in Bengaluru. The centre, which will focus on localization, is the cab aggregator’s tenth such global unit. Present for the launch was CTO Thuan Pham, a Vietnamese who was among the ‘boat people’ -refugees who fled Vietnam to the USA by boat and ship after the Vietnam War -and who went on to do a BS and MS in computer science and engineering from MIT.
Tech on Asia — The internet has been losing its mind over the last 24 hours following a speech from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in which he said the company was “losing over US$1 billion a year in China.” That certainly doesn’t sound good. But is it bad news for Uber in China? Or just some sloppy wording that’s taken on a life of its own?
The States Man — Uber offered its first motorbike taxi service on Wednesday, launching a pilot scheme in Bangkok which could spread across Asia as it takes on chief regional rival Grab Taxi. Motorbikes have long been a popular commuting option in the Thai capital, which faced horrendous traffic jams due to increased car ownership and poor city planning. Ubiquitous motorbike taxi drivers, found at stands across the city wearing bright orange jackets, weave in and out of stalled traffic with both skill and knuckle-whitening speed.
Times of India — HYDERABAD: Taxi aggregator Uber ha opened its Center of Excellence (CoE) here which will house over 500 customer care executives. The first-of-its-kind facility in Asia is part of an agreement the company signed with the Telangana government in July 2015 to invest $50 million in the state, Uber said in a statement. The CoE, which was inaugurated by state IT minister KT Rama Rao, is expected to generate 500 jobs by the end of 2017.
Times of India — Times of India — MUMBAI: Taxi-hailing app Uber has signed an agreement with the Maharashtra government to help create 75,000 jobs across the state. Through this memorandum of understanding (MoU), Uber will focus on training women and people from marginalized sectors of society. “This is to promote equal and fair opportunity for all sectors of society to earn sufficient fares as independent entrepreneurs on the platform,” Uber said in a statement.
Tech in Asia — Uber’s recent focus on China continued today as the company revealed it’s making life easier for Chinese people going overseas. Uber is doing this by allowing its Chinese customers to pay for rides using Alipay, China’s top epayment service, wherever they are in the world. Previously, a Chinese tourist would have to pay with a credit card that permitted foreign currencies.
Tech in Asia — Does Didi Kuaidi need more investment capital after its US$3 billion round last year? Probably not, but it’s getting some anyway. The company announced Tuesday that it has established a new partnership with China Merchants Bank (CMB). The partnership also includes a “strategic investment” from the bank in Didi, although the sum of that investment has not been disclosed.
Tech in Asia — Uber will expand into 18 new cities in China by the end of next month, the company announced today. This expansion across Southern China is hot on the heels of last week’s news that Uber was starting up in 15 cities in Sichuan province before the beginning of Chinese New Year in early February. With the two separate expansions combined, Uber will be in 55 Chinese cities by the end of next month.
Times of India — HONG KONG: Two Hong Kong Uber drivers were fined Friday after pleading guilty to driving without proper licences, the latest slap on the wrist for the global ride-sharing giant. The pair were among seven Uber drivers arrested in Hong Kong in an undercover police sting in August, as the burgeoning company encounters regulatory roadblocks around the world.
Times of India — MUMBAI: Uber India Systems, a local unit of the taxi aggregator, has made a marginal profit in both the years it’s been present in the country. Startups generally burn through cash in the initial years as they acquire scale and customers.
Times of India — On a snowy night in Paris in 2008, Travis Kalanick and his friend Garrett Camp couldn’t get a cab. That inspired the two to set up taxi-hailing app Uber. Today, Uber is the world’s most valuable privately held startup, with an estimated value of $62.5 billion. It’s been quite a ride, and Kalanick, 39, is clearly loving every minute.
Tech in Asia — Today, Uber’s China branch is reporting that the company raised US$2 billion in funding from Chinese investors during its series B round. Reuters reports that investors include China Minsheng Banking Corp, Vanke (a real estate firm), and Hainan Airlines Group, among others.
NDTV — GrabTaxi, the on-demand ride service and Uber competitor in Southeast Asia, is opening a technology centre in Seattle, marking the company’s first physical presence in the United States. GrabTaxi said on Wednesday the new centre will work on cloud computing and data projects to support the smartphone app its customers use to hail rides in a car or motorbike.
Digi Times — Seeing competition growing fierce, Quanta Computer and Wiwynn, a server subsidiary of Wistron, have turned to target second-tier Internet service providers for orders with Quanta receiving orders from Uber for its datacenter and Wiwynn acquiring orders from Twitter, according to sources from the upstream supply chain. Both ODMs declined to comment on their orders or clients.
Times of India — NEW DELHI: US-based taxi-hailing app Uber has signed an agreement with telecom major Bharti Airtel to offer free high-speed internet in its cabs across the country. Besides, Airtel will also become Uber’s official telecom partner across India by offering mobile, data and device plans to Uber driver-partners. The service, which has been launched in Mumbai, will soon be extended to other cities.