Didi Chuxing, one of China’s largest ridesharing companies, today announced a strategic partnership with Bookings Holdings (formerly Priceline), the parent company of Booking.com, that’ll see the two companies share resources and expertise.
Under the terms of the arrangement, Bookings Group will invest $500 million in Didi Chuxing, and its brands — which include Agoda, Kayak, Cheapflights, OpenTable, and others — will work with the startup to offer Didi’s on-demand car services from within their respective mobile apps. Didi Chuxing users, in turn, will gain the option to book hotels through Booking.com or Adoga.
“Didi has clear advantages in technology and scale in the shared mobility industry,” Todd Henrich, senior vice president of corporate development for Booking Holdings, said. “We believe that together we can offer smarter transportation services to our brands’ customers, and help Didi’s customers with seamless access to the products and services the brands in our company provide throughout the world.”
“Building on its leadership and expertise in the global online travel market, Booking is championing a digital revolution of travel experience,” Stephen Zhu, vice president for strategy at Didi Chuxing, said in a statement. “We look forward to seamlessly connecting every segment of the journey and improving everyone’s traveling experience through more collaborative innovation with the Booking brands on product, technology and market development.”
It’s a marriage of titans. Didi Chuxing provides transportation services for more than 450 million users across over 400 cities in China, reaching over 80 percent of the world’s population and covering roughly 1,000 cities. Bookings Holdings, meanwhile, facilitated about 556 million hotel reservations in 2016 alone.
The infusion of fresh capital from Bookings Holdings will help drive Didi Chuxing’s global expansion, specifically in the area of artificial intelligence (AI). In January, Didi Chuxing opened an AI research lab in Beijing with a team of more than 200 engineers and AI experts, who work in conjunction with its Silicon Valley hub on computer vision, deep learning, natural language processing, and other mobility-related AI challenges.
Didi Chuxing, the product of a merger between Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache in 2015, has a history of closing mammoth funding rounds. In December, it raised $4 billion, becoming the world’s second most valuable startup company, and in April 2017 and June 2016, it raised a whopping $5.5 billion and $7.3 billion, respectively. To date, investors including Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu, and others have poured more than $20 billion collectively into the Beijing-based transportation company.
In related news, Reuters reported today that Didi Chuxing is considering offloading its car services business, which consists of its car rental, sales, maintenance, sharing, and gas divisions. It’s worth an estimated $1.5 billion.