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Ride-hailing giant Didi raised $5.5 billion to boost its self-driving and global efforts

The new round would value the company at around $50 billion — close to Uber’s valuation.

Didi Chuxing CEO Jean Liu Asa Mathat

Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hail service, closed a $5.5 billion round of funding valuing the company at around $50 billion, the company confirmed today. That’s up from $34 billion, Didi’s last valuation when the company acquired Uber’s China assets.

Bloomberg first reported the new round.

Part of that new injection of cash — which could make Didi one of China’s most valuable companies — will be dedicated to the company’s artificial intelligence and self-driving efforts as well as its international investments.

In March, the ride-hail company that was founded in 2012 opened up an AI lab that would focus on developing intelligent driving systems in Mountain View, Calif.

The lab is the first physical footprint the company established outside of China, and it’s already attracting top talent. Didi hired famed security expert Charlie Miller away from Uber’s self-driving arm, as well as Dr. Fengmin Gong, the co-founder of Palo Alto Networks and now Didi’s vice president of information security.

Before that, Didi’s international presence largely consisted of investments in foreign ride-hail companies like Grab, Ola, Lyft and, most recently, Brazil’s 99Taxis. However, Didi, Grab, Lyft and Ola have mostly abandoned the tangible products that came out of what was once referred to as the international ride-hail alliance. Didi, Lyft and Grab have done away with the cross-booking platforms the companies rolled out in China and the U.S. with much hype, as the costs outweighed the benefits.

Those relationships first became frayed after Didi’s acquisition of Uber. At that time, Lyft said it was reevaluating its partnership with the company. As for Ola, since Didi made such a small investment in the company, a source close to Ola said little changed in the company’s day-to-day affairs.

But sources told Recode that although Didi isn’t competing against Uber in China anymore, it plans to continue to do so through its investments in players in other regions. To that end, the company plans to dedicate some of its new funding toward its international strategy as well.

However, that’s not to say that the China market is all but won for Didi. Just days before Uber pulled out of China, the country introduced new regulatory guidelines that gave cities the authority to determine what ride-hail laws to implement, including driver qualifications. In Beijing, for instance, there was a limitation on how many new licenses will be issued per month in order to alleviate pollution and smog concerns.

That local authority adds to the already difficult task of attracting new drivers to Didi’s platform. Then there’s the difficult task of merging its business with Uber’s while also competing with the U.S.-based ride-hail service and other players on things like driverless cars.

Investors in this round include new and existing players like SoftBank, China Merchants Bank, Silver Lake and Bank of Communications.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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