Uber CEO Travis Kalanick opens up about deal with China's Didi Chuxing

Uber founder Travis Kalanick (Photo: Reuters)
Opening up about his sale of stake to Didi in China, Uber founder CEO Travis Kalanick on Friday said that it sold its stake to its rival as the ‘battle in China became global’, which made the US-based company decide to focus on other areas like Ubereats, driverless cars and markets like India. The company has in India and other markets rolled out a host of different features and services on the app.

“The battle in China had become global. We had sovereign wealth of China being invested in our competition globally. We had American tech companies that were being to compelled to invest in our competitor in China. And so China battle had become a global battle,” Kalanick said at the TiE Global Summit in the Capital.

In August, Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing announced acquisition of Uber's operations in China in a $35 billion deal. While Didi acquired Uber China's brand, business operations and data, Uber received 5.89% share of the combined entity, totalling 17.7% economic interest in Didi Chuxing. 

Incidentally, Didi is an investor in Uber's rival Ola in India as well as Lyft, a competitor to Uber in the US. "At some point we realised that we can't do everything ourselves. So we partnered in China so that we can focus on other interesting things we are doing worldwide like Ubereats, what is going on in India, driverless cars. There are whole bunch of things that we needed to focus on. We could not do everything ourselves, so it is emotional. We did put our heart and soul in that effort (China operations)," he said.

Kalanick, who is on a five-day trip to India, on Thursday said the company was losing $200 million a month in China and that merging was a "great strategy". In a freewheeling fireside chat with Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant in the Capital on Thursday, Kalanick said that he would even apply for Indian citizenship if it helps in dealing with regulatory hassles better.

“If it is about whether I am personally Indian, I will apply to be a citizen of India if this what gets us over the hump. I think at the end of the day it is about the innovation that is being brought, it is about how we are serving, are we bringing efficiency and positive outcomes for our riders, I think we are. I do not agree with all the comments out there, at the end of the day we respect competing with Ola, and I think we have competed well and fairly and would continue to do so," he said. 
The billionaire entrepreneur started Scour (a file sharing service) with four other co-founders while at UCLA and then went on to set up another file sharing platform, Red Swoosh before starting Uber with Garrett Camp in 2009.

Asked about his views on the ideal number of co-founders for a successful startup venture, Kalanick said: "the thing is when you have too many co-founders is that it takes too long to arrive at a decision. Solo, likewise, is a tough road too."

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel