Ola goes global with Australia launch, takes on Uber

Amid heightened speculation over Ola and Uber collaborating in India, the homegrown ride-hailing unicorn has made its first overseas move by launching its services in Australia where Uber is the dominant player.

After Ola’s lead investor SoftBank became the largest investor in Uber following a large secondary share purchase, speculations were rife that Uber could eventually merge its India operations with Ola. Last year, Uber had sold its China business to Didi Chuxing.

While announcing the launch of its operations in Australia, Ola said the company had started on-boarding private hire vehicles and driver-partners in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from today.

Ola’s Australia entry comes a month after Estonian startup Taxify’s foray into the Australian market. Taxify is backed by Chinese ride hailing major Didi Chuxing. So, Ola will be taking on two companies backed by its own investors, namely SoftBank and Didi Chuxing, in Australia.

All three app-based cab aggregation companies in Australia will have direct or indirect investment from SoftBank. The Japanese investment giant has a large stake in Didi Chuxing, the investor in Taxify.

“We are very excited about launching Ola in Australia and see immense potential for the ride-sharing ecosystem which embraces new technology and innovation.” said Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, Ola.

Founded in 2011, Ola claims to have a user base of 125 million in India and a network of over one million driver-partners across 110 cities. The company says it facilitates around one billion rides a year.

Ola’s international foray follows a large funding round. The company had raised $1.1 billion from investors, including Tecent and SoftBank, last year, and was in the process of raising another $1 billion.

It had also acquired Foodpanda India recently and had committed to invest $200 million in the food ordering business.

Ola has invited driver partners and vehicle owners to register with the company in Australia through its website. The company enters Australia, where Uber had launched its operations in 2012.

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