Founder: Cheng Wei (CEO)
Funding: $23.2 billion (PitchBook)
Valuation: $57.6 billion (PitchBook)
Key technologies: AI, autonomous vehicles, deep learning, Internet of Things, machine learning
Industry: Public transportation, taxi and limousine services
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 2 (No. 2 in 2019)
The global coronavirus pandemic that sidelines ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft is loosening its grip on at least one company in the space: Didi Chuxing. The Beijing-based company also known as DiDi told CNBC in early May that its core ride-hailing business was still profitable despite the impact of the pandemic, and that it's actually seen a pickup in activity after the breakout died down in China. Last year DiDi launched additional ride-hailing operations across Latin America, including Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica and adding to Mexico and Brazil where DiDi already operates.
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Like Uber, DiDi is in the food-delivery business as well. In addition to food-delivery services in Mexico and Brazil, it also launched operations in new cities across Australia and Japan. Among the company's more notable ambitions is the launch of fleets of driverless cars. DiDi announced the upgrade of its autonomous vehicles unit into an independent company, and the upcoming launch of a pilot robo-taxi service in Shanghai to trial its AVs. In fact, in May the company raised more than $500 million in funding from SoftBank's Vision Fund 2 for its autonomous driving division. It said the company would use the massive investment to continue funding R&D and to "accelerate" the launch of driverless cars in China and elsewhere.
To counter the economic impact of the pandemic on DiDi's drivers and couriers, the company created a $10 million relief fund to provide up to 28 days of income to drivers or couriers diagnosed with the virus or those who are under mandatory quarantine. It also introduced contactless food-delivery services in Brazil, Mexico and Japan.