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Why Didi could speed past Uber as world’s most valuable startup

Didi Chuxing may be on its way to beating out Uber as the most valuable private company in the world.

Didi Chuxing may be on its way to beating out Uber as the most valuable private company in the world.

The Chinese ridehailing company has reportedly confirmed its $5.5 billion fundraise at a valuation of at least $50 billion. That would make it the third most valuable private company across the globe, per PitchBook data, behind only Uber (about $68 billion) and fellow Chinese company Ant Financial (~$60 billion).

Prior to this round, Didi would have come in fourth on that list—Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi Technology is valued at $46 million, while Didi achieved its previous $34 billion valuation when it bought Uber’s China operations for $7 billion last summer.

As of now, Uber’s valuation—at least on paper—is still significantly higher than that of Didi ($68 billion versus around $50 billion). But there are several reasons why the Chinese company could catch and potentially surpass Uber in the not-so-distant future:

Uber’s valuation may not be what it seems

Uber’s most recent valuation dates back to August 2016, when Didi bought Uber’s Chinese business and upped the US ridehailing giant’s worth from $66 billion to a reported $68 billion. That was nine months ago. Nine months isn’t that long—unless you’re Uber, in which case it’s a very. long. time.

Back in August, Uber had yet to enter its very public period of struggles. There was no #DeleteUber hashtag. There was no viral blog post from a former engineer, alleging rampant and unchecked sexual harassment. The company hadn’t yet lost nine of its highest-ranking executives, including its president. (We could go on, but you get the point.) The value of Uber may have declined in the last nine months; there just hasn’t been a new funding round to confirm the probable drop.

Increased competition from other ridehailing companies

Competition in the ridehailing space as a whole is on the rise. In the last few months, many of the major global businesses operating in the industry have raised massive rounds. Grab, Uber’s main competitor in Southeast Asia, was said to have been raising a $1.5 billion funding in March. A month earlier, India-based Ola reportedly secured a $330 million round. And then, of course, there’s Lyft, the second most prominent ridehailing company in the US, which landed $600 million earlier this month and bumped its valuation by $2 billion, to $7.5 billion.

Those companies aren’t anywhere near unseating Uber as the most valuable private company, but they could continue to take over global market share and contribute to a drop in Uber’s popularity and value.

Didi’s valuation is rapidly rising

Enter Didi, a ridehailing company that does have the potential to surpass Uber—especially if Uber’s valuation does in fact decline following its $68 billion zenith. Didi’s current round is the biggest single equity financing in history (Uber raised $3.5 billion from the Saudi government in June 2016 and about $2 billion from Toyota around the same time, but they were two distinct fundings), and the company’s valuation increased by $16 billion with the capital infusion. The huge fundraise and related valuation climb aren’t a one-off; it’s a pattern. Didi has raised several other massive rounds since 2015 and has watched its valuation skyrocket from $8.75 billion to $50 billion in just two years. At that rate, one more big funding could push it past Uber.

Simply put, Didi’s valuation is rising and it’s possible Uber’s is on the decline.

Whether the Chinese ridehailing giant will be worth more than its US-based counterpart sometime soon is still up in the air. But the two companies appear to be on opposite trajectories, with Didi in a solid position to pass by Uber on its ride to the top.

Check out more of our ridehailing coverage right here and learn more about Didi in its free profile.

  • dana-headshot.jpg
    Written by Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen was a senior writer at PitchBook, covering all things venture capital. She has a BA from UC Santa Barbara and a JD from Loyola Law School.

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