Fresh off of pulling out of Southeast Asia, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is confident that he can win in all the other markets the company is continuing to operate in. “India, Middle East, Africa, etc., we are going to be, I believe, the winning player in those markets and we’re going to control our own destiny,”
Khosrowshahi told Recode at last week’s Code Conference.
But winning in those markets won’t be easy, especially as Uber has to contend with its former foe, Didi, around the globe.
Though Uber will be competing head to head with strong local competitors like Ola in India and Careem in the Middle East and Africa, few other companies have as global a reach as Uber and Didi right now.
Backed with a seemingly endless war chest of funding, Didi has not only launched proxy wars against Uber through investments in many of its international competitors — including both Ola and Careem — the company has also physically launched in Mexico, Uber’s third-largest market. Selling its Southeast Asian operations to Grab as well as its earlier deal with Russian competitor Yandex.Taxi has certainly freed up some resources for Uber, which saw a profitable first quarter after gaining a combined $2.9 billion from those mergers.
That initial launch in Mexico came just a few months after Didi acquired Brazilian ride-hail company 99 and placed one of its top executives at the helm of the company. That makes Latin America the backdrop of the second ground war the two will be engaged in since Didi vanquished the U.S. ride-hail player in China in 2016. That said, Didi is facing threats on the home front from Chinese delivery company Meituan, which recently launched a ride-share service.
From the outside, there’s been a major shift in international strategy for both companies. Uber’s and Didi’s strategies, in fact, look more similar every day. Today, those strategies entail a combination of investments in local players and physical operations in markets where the companies feel they could win or there isn’t an obvious existing player to work with.
Didi, for its part, was among the champions of the hyperlocal strategy, and believed — alongside Southeast Asia’s Grab and Ola — that the home-field advantage would reign supreme. That strategy won out in China when the company bought Uber’s operations in the country.
But as early as 2015, Didi began dipping its toes in international waters through investments in companies like Lyft, Grab and, later, Taxify. Didi’s launch in Mexico is an example of the biggest departure from its original strategy. Uber’s strategy, on the other hand, was initially to expand quickly and put boots on the ground in every market. Now, as the company prepares to go public and is cutting its losses, Uber has had to whittle down its international footprint.
Continue reading (including Uber and Didi world footprint maps):
- How do Didi and Uber compare?