Didi Kuaidi brings Yahoo’s Jerry Yang on board

REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Didi Kuaidi, China's largest internet car hailing company, has named Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang as a senior adviser and a board observer, adding another internet celebrity to its team in its increasingly global fight against US rival Uber.

With its position in China secure for the time being, Didi Kuaidi has been turning its focus abroad. It bought a stake in US-based Lyft last summer and launched a global alliance with India's Ola, Singapore's GrabTaxi, and Lyft aimed at fending off further Uber encroachment.

Taiwan-born Mr Yang has a wealth of experience with China's internet sector, having been an early investor and board member of Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce giant that is an investor in Didi Kuaidi with a stake estimated in the low single digits. He is also an independent director on Lenovo's board.

The web of relationships that Mr Yang brings to Didi will probably be useful to the company in upcoming fundraisings. Mr Yang sits on Alibaba's board alongside founder and chairman Jack Ma, and Masayoshi Son, chief executive officer of Japan's SoftBank. Mr Son was also an early investor in both Yahoo and Alibaba, and has stakes in Didi Kuaidi, GrabTaxi, and Ola.

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Didi claims 250m users in 360 Chinese cities, with services ranging from taxis and private car hailing to chauffeurs and even buses. It says it has 80 per cent of the domestic private car service market, while rival Uber claims 30-35 per cent. Uber predicts that by the end of the year China will outpace the US to be its largest market.

Last week Didi announced the resignation of chief financial officer Xu Tao, who left to go an online laundry delivery service, according to press reports. The company is still working to integrate the two teams from Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache –— formerly China's top two car hailing apps, which merged in February.

Cheng Wei, Didi Kuaidi's chairman, said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr Yang's appointment "will greatly benefit Didi's long-term strategy to build a leading mobile internet platform of global scale".

Mr Yang said: "Didi has proven to be a technology and market leader in China's mobile internet sector."

He is the founding partner of AME Cloud Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. In 1995, he co-founded Yahoo and was on its board of directors from 1995 to 2012.