OLA RAISED US$1.1 BILLION TO INVEST IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING CAPABILITIES

Fast urbanization and urban sprawl is challenging the cities and their planning authorities across the world. India and its cities are no different in terms of facing those challenges. While public transportation solutions around the world and India are focused on mass transit options such as Metro Rail, Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), Mono Rail etc., Taxi services form an essential part of urban mobility puzzle for a city. Taxi services are an individual, mostly door-to-door micro transit service, offered to the public predominantly at a local level. 

On-demand transport market is growing rapidly in urban cities in India as the demand for mobility growing. In last 5 years, the on-demand transport industry has emerged as main-stream players and complementing (sometime competing) with mass transit solutions. However, largely they are emerging as a good alternative option to private vehicles. Meru Cabs is pioneer for creating organised taxi service in India with call center. The company is still one of the largest radio taxi companies in the world and has also adopted new technologies to provide on-demand service. However, the emergence of new technology players has changed the landscape of taxi market in India, as the market has grown from 100,000 trips/day in 2012 to 25 million trips/day in 2017.

Ola (owned by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.) is the home-grown transport technology players in India, founded in 2011 by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati. The company uses a mobile technology platform to connect customers and driver partners. The company has closed a funding round of US$1.1 billion, led by Tencent Holdings Limited, Soft Bank Group and US based investor. Ola is also in advanced talks with other investors to close an additional US$1 billion as part of the financing round, concluding a total raise of over US$2 billion. Ola has become fourth highest funded company in technology transport space and will become third largest after the completion of the current funding round.

On-demand transport market is largely controlled by two companies – Ola and Uber India. Both companies jointly controlled the market share of more than 96% and remaining share is with Meru and other players. However, Ola is the largest players in India with presence in 110 cities across the country and provides 14 unique categories. The company also has its own mobile wallet – Ola Money. 

The company has raised funding from the marquee investors and attracting interests from many news investors who want to part of growing India story. There is speculation that the market will witness another cut-throat competition with this funding. However, Ola has indicated that the company will make strategic investments in supply, technology, and innovations, mainly in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities to solve for mobility problems.

Ola is currently focusing on “Ola Share” and “Electric Vehicles” and not actively investing is self-driving vehicles. The company has launched multi-modal integrated electric vehicles concept in Nagpur, Maharashtra and looking to replace the same in other parts of the country with the right support from government agencies and other stakeholders.