Uber Combats Drunks With Toy
The American ride-hailing company Uber is using a popular 1990s toy to try and distract intoxicated passengers so they won't abuse or assault drivers. Reuters/Tyrone Siu

The American ride-hailing company Uber announced Monday that it raised fresh funds that value its China unit at $7 billion. The move is likely to help Uber in its uphill battle to capture market share in China from its local competitor, the Alibaba- and Tencent-backed Didi Kuaidi, which recently said it holds nearly 90 percent of China’s private car-hailing market.

According to reports, Uber China's investors include HNA Group — the operator of China’s fourth-largest airline — China Taiping Insurance Holdings, Guangzhou Automobile Group, China Life Insurance — the nation's largest insurer — and investment bank Citic Securities.

At a press conference in Beijing Monday, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick reportedly said that Uber China’s $7 billion valuation does not include the new cash, adding that Uber had committed to invest 6.3 billion yuan ($958 million) in China, with the country being Uber’s “largest market globally and a key strategic hub.”

However, details of the amount in the latest round were not disclosed.

China is one of the few global markets where the U.S. giant lags behind a local rival. Its Chinese competitor Didi Kuaidi, which was formed by the merger of two competing taxi apps early last year, recently announced that it had raised $4 billion, making it over twice as valuable as the Uber China unit.

In May, Didi Kuaidi, which, along with several other Asian ride-hailing companies, is part of a so-called “anti-Uber alliance,” also invested $100 million in Uber’s main U.S. rival Lyft, in a move aimed at countering Uber’s global ambitions.

Overall, though, Uber, which owns a controlling stake in Uber China, was last valued at over $60 billion, much higher than Didi Kuaidi’s $16 billion.