Chinese search engine Baidu Inc (百度) yesterday announced that it has bought a stake in Uber for an undisclosed sum, as the controversial US Web-based taxi app seeks to expand into an already crowded market.
Baidu will also link users of its mapping and search functions with Uber drivers, the two companies announced at a ceremony in Beijing.
The investment has previously been reported to be as much as US$600 million, according to state-run China National Radio.
“Our efforts here in China are unique and will continue to be, let’s call it, more unique than anywhere else,” Uber chief executive officer Travis Kalanick said at a press conference.
“You have to do things differently here in China,” he said, without elaborating.
Uber, which connects riders and local drivers, currently operates in nine cities across China, including the capital Beijing and financial hub Shanghai.
However, its presence is dwarfed by China’s two dominant taxi-hailing apps — Kuaidi Dache (快的打車), in which e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) has a stake, and Didi Dache (滴滴打車), backed by technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊).
Kuaidi secured a 54.4 percent share in China in the third quarter, while Didi held a 44.9 percent market share, research firm Analysys International said.
Uber has drawn protests from established taxi operators in many cities around the world.
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