Softbank is on the verge of entering the ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles space with a $6 billion investment into Didi Chuxing.
According to Bloomberg sources, Didi is currently considering the investment, though it is not clear whether the cash injection would come directly from Softbank or the $100 billion Venture Fund, which it is one of the major players.
Details are relatively thin, though the decision is riddled with complications. To tackle the likes of Uber and Google in the self-driving business there would certainly need to be a hefty war-chest, but such an investment might be met coldly by current investors who would see their share and influence diluted.
Current investors include Apple, Tencent, Alibaba and China’s sovereign wealth fund, in short, a few organizations you’d probably want to stay on the right side of. The investment would be the single largest made in a Chinese start-up to date, and would bolster an already healthy bank account following several rounds of funding. Additional rumours have current investors Apple and Tencent considering increasing their stake to avoid the dilution.
Didi is one organization which doesn’t seem to mind a bit of conflict however, having tackled the Uber challenge in China last year. Uber seemingly gave into shareholder pressure and merged its loss-making Chinese business with Didi during August, creating a $35 billion giant in the process. The saga itself could be viewed as an admission of defeat by Uber, as an expensive competition for the Chinese market was on the horizon.
“As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that being successful is about listening to your head as well as following your heart,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said at the time.
Spokespersons for both Softbank and Didi have declined to comment on reports to date.
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