Didi raises gigantic US$5.5B round to fund international expansion and driverless tech

Yon Heong Tung
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This round brings Didi’s valuation to US$50 billion

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi has raised an astronomical US$5.5 billion round.

The investors were not disclosed. But according to a report by Bloomberg, SoftBank Group Corp., Silver Lake Kraftwerk, China Merchants Bank Co. and an arm of Bank of Communications Co were said to be joining the round.

The newly-raised capital will be used to fund Didi’s international expansion efforts and also advance its driverless technology.

The new round also brings Didi’s valuation to US$50 billion. Previously, it was valued at US$34 billion after it acquired Uber’s Chinese business.

Driverless tech will help Didi overcome major regulatory hurdles in its home market. In February, Bloomberg reported that the Chinese authorities were cracking down on Didi drivers who did not have the right permits to operate.

As part of its efforts to build intelligent driving systems, Didi will open an AI Lab in Mountain View, California. It also recruited Charlie Miller, an engineer who made the news for his remote hacking of a jeep, and poached engineers from Google’s self-driving project.

Didi also teamed up with online tech class platform Udacity to launch a competition that will see five teams compete to develop self-driving technology.

On its market expansion front, Didi announced the launch of a new international business unit. It has also been test-trialling international credit card payments, and an English interface of its app, according to a report by the SCMP.

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