Ola, India’s Ride-hailing Giant, Raises $500m to Expand to New Markets

Ola, India’s Ride-hailing Giant, Raises $500m to Expand to New Markets

As the success of vaccine roll out continues to help ease restrictions, companies in the transportation business are once again raising funds to expand to new markets.

Although India is still grappling with a deadly second wave of covid, one of its own is in the news for huge fundraising.

Temasek and an affiliate of Warburg Pincus are investing $500 million in Indian ride-hailing giant Ola, the Bangalore-headquartered startup said in a short statement Friday. Ola co-founder and chief executive Bhavish Aggarwal is also participating in the new investment, the startup said. TechCrunch has the story.

This is the first time SoftBank-backed Ola, which leads the market in India, has raised money since its Series J financing round two years ago, according to records on insight platform Tracxn. Ola said in a statement that the investment comes “ahead of IPO” — but didn’t elaborate. (The startup has since said it hasn’t finalized the timing of its IPO.)

Ola, Temasek and Warburg Pincus didn’t share how the new investment valued the ride-hailing startup, which competes with Uber in India. Ola was valued at under $5 billion in its previous financing round.

EV business Ola Electric, which spun out of Ola in 2019, is also in the market to raise money, TechCrunch reported earlier this week. The unicorn startup will soon start the production of its electric scooters, Aggarwal, who also oversees Ola Electric, said recently.

Mobility firms are among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic. But in recent months, they have started to pick up pace again as more Indian states relax lockdown restrictions.

Ola had about 32 million monthly active users on Android in India in June, up from about 26 million in May, according to mobile insight firm App Annie. Uber had about 22 million users in June on Android in India, up from 18 million in May.

“Over the last 12 months we’ve made our ride-hailing business more robust, resilient and efficient. With strong recovery post-lockdown and a shift in consumer preference away from public transportation, we are well positioned to capitalize on the various urban mobility needs of our customers. I welcome Warburg Pincus and Temasek to Ola and look forward to collaborating with them in our next phase of growth,” said Aggarwal in a statement.

Ola, which operates in over 100 cities in India and has amassed over a million driver partners on its platform, also expanded to several international markets including Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. in the past decade.

“We look forward to collaborating with Bhavish and the team in the next phase of Ola’s growth,” said Vishal Mahadevia, MD and head of India business at Warburg Pincus, in a statement.

The new round however coincides with Didi’s predicament. The China-based ride-hailing app, which over the years has been dominant in China, forcing Uber to sell its operation in China to Didi, was last week stopped by Chinese authorities from registering new customers, and its app was taken down from Chinese app store. That’s just a few days after it went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

Ola said the new round will be used to expand its operation. Having covered most of Indian cities, the aim is to increase its international market share, and China appears to be one of the target markets.

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