Gadfly

Didi's Got 99 Taxis. Brazil's Just One of Them

Unlike Uber, the Chinese firm was busy making friends.
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Photographer: Cassio Vasconcellos/Getty Images

Didi Chuxing's global expansion is just getting started.

A deal this week to buy out the rest of Brazil's 99 Taxis follows the Chinese unicorn's $100 million investment a year ago. While the purchase price wasn't announced, doubtless some of that cash came from SoftBank Group Corp., which led a $4 billion funding round into Didi just last month.

This latest transaction is quite a coup for Didi. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the the busiest cities globally for Uber Technologies Inc., Bloomberg's Eric Newcomer reports. That makes it a ripe market for Didi, too.

Uber is also flush with cash -- also thanks to SoftBank --which means that both companies have fat wallets and are ready to spend.

How to Spend It

Didi Chuxing is flush with cash, and ready to go on a global shopping expedition

Data: CrunchBase; graphic by Bloomberg Gadfly

But there's a big difference. When Uber was running around the world stepping on toes and muscling into territories solo, Didi (and its ancestors) was building alliances with local heroes.

outlined this strategy 18 months ago when foreshadowing an eventual Didi-Uber truce. Now, it's starting to pay dividends.

Just as new Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi is busy cleaning up the mess of his predecessor, Didi's leader Jean Liu can enjoy ready access to the boards of the firm's numerous worldwide partners.

It's possible that previous deals freeze Uber out of talks entirely. Even if that's not the case, Liu is sure to have the kind of trust and inside edge that even SoftBank money can't buy.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
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