ANI Technologies, operator of Ola, India's largest ride-hailing app service provider, has confirmed it has raised $500 million in fresh funding as it moves to consolidate its lead in one of the most promising markets for Uber Technologies.
International Business Times had reported in September that Ola was close to finalizing this round of funding, which could value the ride-hailing network company at about $5 billion. This is the Bangalore startup's sixth round of funding, with participation from both new and existing investors, including London-based Baillie Gifford Japan Trust PLC, private equity and hedge fund firms Tiger Global Management and Falcon Edge Capital, Japan's telecom and Internet company SoftBank Group and venture capital firm DST Global.
China's largest ride-hailing service provider, Didi Kuaidi, in which too SoftBank Group is a large investor, has also invested in Ola in this round. The money will be used to add more cabs to the network, strengthen technology and business processes, identify new ways Ola's services can be used and to go deeper into existing markets, the company said in a press release Wednesday.
Ride-hailing services got off to a shaky start in India, but more recently a comprehensive set of guidelines released by the transport ministry of the federal government has set the stage for similar rules being formed across the country in different local governments to tap the advantages of the sector, where demand far outstrips supply.
Ola, while being the market leader in terms of the number of cabs operating on its network, faces stiff competition from Uber, which is investing over $1 billion in India, a region that the U.S. company sees as one of its largest and fastest growing markets outside the U.S. Uber is also building a state-of-the-art operations center to boost its expansion in India.
Independent transport sector consultants also estimate as much as 50 percent of the cabs on the ride-hailing networks may be working on more than one network. Ola now gets a million booking requests a day, and has more than 350,000 vehicles registered on its network, the company said in the statement.
This includes 275,000 cabs, with the rest comprising 75,000 autorickshaws in six cities and some black-and-yellow taxis in Mumbai, yellow taxis in the eastern Indian metro city of Kolkata, and Ola Share, which is being piloted in Bangalore, as an option for people on the same social networking groups to ride together.
Ola, founded in January 2011 by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, graduates of one of the country's top engineering schools, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has raised $1.3 billion from investors, including the latest round. Most of that money was raised in the last one year.