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30 April 2017, 01:33 | Kristen Gross
Didi has so far focused on ride-hailing services in the domestic Chinese market but it's looking to expand into more countries. Bloomberg
Didi Chuxing, the Chinese equivalent of Uber, has closed a US$5.5 billion funding round.
Didi will continue to work with global communities and partners to offer more innovative mobility services, and expand smart urban transportation programs to build an efficient and sustainable global mobility ecosystem, the company said in a statement.
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, the company that bought Uber's China business past year, has closed a $5.5 billion funding round, valuing the company at over $50 billion, making it one of the world's most valuable private technology companies.
The deal, one of the largest ever in the Asian venture industry, is aimed at giving Beijing-based Didi sufficient capital to pursue an ambitious agenda in China and beyond.
Didi, which drove Uber Technologies Inc. out of China past year, is already one of the country's best-funded private companies: its backers range from powerful state agencies to global venture firms and WeChat-operator Tencent Holdings Ltd. The company's total valuation is said to have been raised from $34 billion - which it earned after acquiring Uber's business in China - to now sit at $50 billion.
That price tag would surpass smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.'s and make Didi the world's most valuable startup after Uber.
The company delayed announcing the investment, despite many previous reports hinting at it. Didi already made some investments in artificial intelligence (AI) technology and did some hiring for its AI division in March - the company set up a new AI lab in Mountain View, California to focus on intelligent driving systems, artificial-intelligence-based transport security and self-driving.
Cheng founded Didi less than five years ago after leaving e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Still, Didi has won operating licenses in close to a dozen cities including Tianjin and Chengdu, affirming its right to legally operate in China.
Didi, founded in 2012, claims almost 90 percent of China's ride-hailing market after buying rival Uber's assets in the country a year ago.
The company hopes that driverless technology could help it overcome these hurdles in the future. The firm led a $100 million investment in Brazilian ride-hailing service 99 in January and opened a research lab in Silicon Valley last month dedicated to artificial intelligence and self-driving-tech related research.
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