Reading between the lines, this investment looks as much like SoftBank Group Corp. pushing money onto the four-year-old company as it is the startup passing around a begging bowl. Chen foreshadowed the fundraising a month ago when she wrote that SoftBank would lead the deal, which at the time was being considered by China's largest ride-hailing company.
SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, 59, encouraged Didi Chief Executive Officer Cheng Wei to take more capital so he wouldn't be constrained in pursuing new opportunities, Chen reported late Wednesday.
Didi's post-SoftBank valuation
Son is a master salesman and looks once again to have had his way. We shouldn't be surprised: This is a man who convinced the Saudi Arabian government to part with $45 billion for his SoftBank Vision Fund based on what appears to be not much more than a vision for the future. It also comes amid SoftBank's plan to lead a $1.5 billion round of funding for Grab, the Singapore-based ride-hailing service in which it's previously invested.
Meanwhile Didi has been quietly making friends and signing cooperation agreements around the world under the leadership of Cheng, a former Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. salesman, and President Jean Liu, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumnus. Its latest: a deal to embed access to Chinese bike-rental company Ofo Inc. directly within the Didi app.
Clearly, Masa is a fan of the collaborative approach being taken by Didi, which stands at loggerheads with Uber's combative style. That may be why he's so keen to ensure the Chinese company is well armed for the next phase of battle, which will probably include global expansion and driverless cars, and will surely pit it against Uber once more.
But I'd be more concerned for Uber. The unprofitable company remains locked in a cash-burning battle with Lyft. And since Kalanick's go-it-alone confrontational strategy is more expensive than Didi's cooperative method, it will continue to need funding from a pool of VCs that ought to be questioning how high its value can go before an IPO is needed to secure a profitable exit.
Didi, on the other hand, enjoys the patronage of a man with a $100 billion checkbook and a century-long vision. It hardly seems like a fair fight.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
(Tim Culpan is a technology columnist for Bloomberg Gadfly. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.)
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.