Brazilians first heard of Didi Chuxing on January 4, 2017. The leading ridesharing company had invested over USD 100 million in the Brazilian app 99 – Uber’s biggest Brazilian competitor. In exchange for the money, Didi was able to name one member of the company’s board and provide “strategic guidance” to 99. Almost exactly one year later, Didi has now concluded the complete takeover of 99 with a deal reportedly worth USD 600 million.
The deal could have severe international implications. Latin America is set to be the next battleground between Uber and Didi, the industry’s biggest companies. Uber has posted its fastest growth rates in the region. In Mexico, the Silicon Valley company has enjoyed such a stronghold that almost no competitor – including 99 – has dared to enter its market. Instead, Didi opted to tackle the region’s largest country. The move forms part of Didi’s aggressive internationalization strategy, after having run Uber out of their home turf.
The details of the deal have not yet been officially disclosed. Didi Chuxing, however, has reportedly bought out the funds Riverwood Capital, Monashees, Qualcomm Ventures, Tiger Global, and Japan’s Softbank.
With the deal, the Brazilian app was valued at USD 1 billion. Some analysts labeled it as Brazil’s first unicorn, a startup valued at over USD 1 billion. But if 99 might be a unicorn, it is by no means Brazilian, but rather a Chinese subsidiary in Brazil. In January 2017, Didi owned about 30 percent of the Brazilian company. Now, it has full control of it.