Tag Archives: uber

Scoop Mon. With Colleagues: Indonesia’s Go-Jek in Talks to Raise $1 Billion

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The exclusive, with my WSJ colleagues P.R. Venkat and Kane Wu, begins:

Go-Jek, the Indonesian motorcycle-hailing startup backed by KKR & Co., Warburg Pincus LLC and others, is in talks with investors to raise $1 billion, people familiar with the process said.

The new money would give the Jakarta company added power to battle rivals Uber Technologies Inc. and Singapore’s Grab for a lead in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. The company is seeking the new money to expand, with the first round of bids due by the end of this month, one of the people said.

Beijing’s China International Capital Corp. and Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group AG are among the banks assisting in raising funds, according to people familiar with the matter. Representatives for Go-Jek didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The cash injection would give Go-Jek a pre-money valuation of about $2 billion, the people said. A pre-money valuation refers to the value of a startup before fresh funds are included. Go-Jek raised around $550 million in August at an undisclosed valuation.

This would be more money for one of Southeast Asia’s hottest startups. And more competition for Uber and Grab in the region.

The difference between saying something and actually doing it 

About a quarter of the time I take Ubers here in Delhi the driver asks me, when I get out, to give him a five-star rating. (Drivers must maintain a certain rating to ensure they can continue working on the platform.)

Usually I just nod my head and say “yeah okay,” and proceed to give them whatever score I would have given them anyway. 

The other day a driver did something different. 

As I was getting out of the car he said “sir” to get my attention, then pointed at his phone, where he had selected five stars in his rating for me

Then when he saw I was looking, he pressed submit.

When it came time for me to score him later, I also gave him a similar rating. 

He was a good driver indeed, but he also understood the law of reciprocity. He knew the difference between just saying something and actually taking action. And that I may well feel inclined to help him out too (since riders are also ranked). 

Clever. 

Newley’s Notes 77: Uber in India; Apple Scoop; OMGWTF: New ‘Bladerunner’?

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Edition 77 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers yesterday. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them on Newley.com, enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter in which I share links to my stories and various items I think are worth highlighting.

I hope you had an enjoyable holiday period. Best wishes for a happy new year.

My apologies: This week’s Newley’s Notes is a couple of days late due to holiday travel.

A and I just returned to Delhi after an excellent stay at Neemrana Fort Palace, about three hours by car south of here.

It’s a 15th century fort that’s been turned into a hotel. It’s quiet, the countryside is beautiful, and there’s even a fascinating stepwell nearby. I highly recommended it for a quick getaway from Delhi.

Okay. On to this week’s edition.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

Uber’s Drive Into India Relies on Raw Recruits – This is a story I’d been working on for some time, and I was happy with how it turned out. It begins:

NEW DELHI—How do you train a million new Uber drivers in a country where most people have never driven a car, tapped on a smartphone or even used an online map?

Uber Technologies Inc. faces that daunting task as it tries to avoid its fate in China, where it decided this year to sell its business to homegrown champion Didi Chuxing Technology Co.

The $68 billion San Francisco startup has plenty of cash and cutting-edge technology to bring to its battle in India. Also, the country hasn’t thrown up the kind of regulatory hurdles that have hindered Uber’s growth in other regions. So the company’s ability to find and teach new drivers could decide whether Uber can dominate this fast-growing market.

Click through for the rest of the piece, along with a video narrated by yours truly.

I also wrote a sidebar titled “5 Ways Uber Is Tweaking Its Strategy in India.”. These localizations include accepting cash payments, going app-less, using motorbikes and more.

Apple Is Discussing Manufacturing in India, Government Officials Say – A scoop with a colleague that was followed by Reuters and picked up by many outlets.

It begins:

NEW DELHI— Apple Inc. is discussing with the Indian government the possibility of manufacturing its products in the country, according to two senior government officials, as the company seeks to expand its sales and presence in the South Asian nation.

In a letter to the government last month, the Cupertino, Calif., firm outlined its plans and sought financial incentives to move ahead, the officials told The Wall Street Journal. Senior Trade Ministry authorities in recent weeks met to discuss the matter.

An Apple spokeswoman didn’t respond to requests for comment.

I’ve written, as you’ll recall, about Apple in India before. It’s a huge market for the firm’s potential future growth.

FIVE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Wait, there’s a new “Bladerunner” coming? How did I miss this news?

Longtime readers will know the 1982 Ridley Scott sci-fi classic is one of my favorite films.

Well, “Bladerunner 2049” will be here in October. The trailer’s on YouTube here. Wikipedia sums up the plot this way:

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

The trailer: meh. The idea of “Bladerunner” returning? A slightly more optimistic meh. I feel like I should be excited about this.

2) An analysis by Quartz of 36 best books of the year lists shows the title most mentioned has been Colson Whitehead’s novel “The Underground Railroad.”

I haven’t read it. Have you?

3) Jerry Lewis is a tough guy to interview.

In this seven-minute video, the famed, 90-year-old comedian had a remarkably cranky exchange with The Hollywood Reporter.

His mocking laugh is my favorite part.

4) If the less-than-robust Mosul Dam breaks, a million and a half people could perish.

That’s the thrust of this illuminating piece by Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker.

5) Was 2016 an especially bad year for celebrity deaths?

This week brought us news of George Michael’s death. Then Carrie Fisher. Then Carrie Fischer’s mom.

Snopes.com answers the question.

6) SPECIAL BONUS LINK: DESPITE WHAT YOU THINK, THE WORLD IS GETTING BETTER. There was a lot of bad news in 2016, but these six charts serve as a reminder that the world is, in the aggregate, improving.

Over the last century, extreme poverty and child mortality are down drastically, while democracy, education, literacy, and vaccinations have flourished. More info here.

Thanks for reading. Happy 2017!

Love,
Newley

How Uber’s Racing to Add Drivers Here in India

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That’s the subject of my latest story, out Thursday, which begins:

NEW DELHI—How do you train a million new Uber drivers in a country where most people have never driven a car, tapped on a smartphone or even used an online map?

Uber Technologies Inc. faces that daunting task as it tries to avoid its fate in China, where it decided this year to sell its business to homegrown champion Didi Chuxing Technology Co.

The $68 billion San Francisco startup has plenty of cash and cutting-edge technology to bring to its battle in India. Also, the country hasn’t thrown up the kind of regulatory hurdles that have hindered Uber’s growth in other regions. So the company’s ability to find and teach new drivers could decide whether Uber can dominate this fast-growing market.

Click through for a video, narrated by yours truly.

I also wrote a sidebar, “5 Ways Uber Is Tweaking Its Strategy in India.

By Me Monday: How Singapore’s Grab is Battling Uber Here in Southeast Asia

The story begins:

SINGAPORE—Uber Technologies Inc. is locked in major tussles with local rivals in China and India, but a homegrown upstart is also grabbing an advantage in the race for another Asia prize.

A startup called Grab is winning ride-hailing turf in Southeast Asia—home to 600 million people, almost double the population of the U.S. The startup serves more cities in the region than Uber and, according to mobile-app analytics firm App Annie, is beating the world’s most valuable startup in the race for users here.

The region’s ride-hailing market is forecast to grow more than five times to $13.1 billion by 2025 from $2.5 billion last year, according to a recent report on Southeast Asia’s internet economy conducted by Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Singapore state-investment firm Temasek Holdings.

There’s also a video, embedded at the top of the post, in the story, and online here. (You may recognize the narrator’s voice.)

I last wrote about Grab — previously known as GrabTaxi — when they teamed up with fellow ride-sharing firms Lyft and Ola, and when they raised new funds last year.

By Me and a Colleague Wed.: Uber to Launch Motorbike Service in Bangkok

The story begins:

BANGKOK—Uber Technologies Inc. is breaking into motorcycle bookings, taking its battle to win over users in Southeast Asia to the traffic-clogged streets of Bangkok.

Beginning Wednesday, users in select parts of the Thai capital will be able to open the firm’s app and summon a motorcycle driver, who will pick them up and ferry them to their destinations. The service, dubbed UberMOTO, allows riders to pay with cash or credit cards, with fares beginning at 10 Thai baht (28 U.S. cents).

Motorcycle taxis are popular in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia because of their low cost and their ability to cut between lanes of traffic, making it easier to navigate through gridlock.

Uber’s offering comes amid growing popularity of rivals’ motorbike-booking services in Southeast Asia. The company’s main competitor in the region, Singapore-based ride-hailing app Grab, in 2014 launched a motorbike service in nearby Vietnam. It is also available in Thailand, the Philippines in Indonesia. Grab doesn’t disclose its number of users but says its app has been downloaded more than 11 million times, up from 4.8 million in June.

Click through to read the rest.

By Me Yesterday: Lyft Teams up with India’s Ola and Singapore’s GrabTaxi

The story begins:

The international alliance of Uber Technologies Inc.’s ride-hailing competitors is growing stronger.

San Francisco startup Lyft Inc. confirmed Thursday it is teaming up with Southeast Asia’s GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. and India’s Ola to allow users of each app to hail rides from drivers of the other apps while they are traveling to the other country. Lyft and Chinese startup Didi Kuaidi Joint Co. announced a similar arrangement in September, when the Journal also reported that they were in talks with GrabTaxi and Ola.

Each service will collect payments from its own users in their native currency so that, for example, Indian visitors to the U.S. can open their Ola app to order and pay for rides on Lyft, after which Ola will remit that money to Lyft. The companies said the connected system will go live in the first quarter of next year.

The alliance will connect four services in nine countries, potentially bolstering the competitive field against the much larger Uber. Now in 350 cities around the world, Uber is currently raising up to $2.1 billion more in funding at a valuation as high as about $65 billion, according to a document reviewed by the Journal.

 

By Me Today: Uber’s Controversial ‘Surge Pricing’ in Sydney

Earlier today, I wrote:

Uber acted quickly Monday in an attempt to tamp down the latest controversy to hit the company, saying it is offering passengers free rides amid an unfolding siege at a Sydney café after complaints that rates had soared to exorbitant levels.

The reversal came just a short time after the ride-sharing app drew criticism on Twitter for saying it was raising prices to attract more drivers to the city’s central business district, where at least one gunman had taken hostages in a cafe and placed an Islamic flag in the window, sparking concerns a terrorist attack was under way.

The fare uptick was the result of an Uber policy called surge pricing, in which an algorithm charges customers more money during times of high demand — as was apparently the case in Sydney. Some users reported that the minimum fare had skyrocketed to $100 Australian dollars ($82) for a ride.

Click through for more. And for updates about the situation in Sydney, see our live blog.

Meanwhile, I neglected to mention that I recently wrote about Uber’s regulatory issues in Southeast Asia.