Another billion dollars for Ola, with more on the way


India’s leading mobility app Ola has raised $1.1 billion with un-named US investors taking part alongside Chinese digital giant Tencent.

Tencent is making its first investment in Ola and led the round. Softbank also contributed to the latest round. The Japanese investment powerhouse has been part of the investor line-up since it led a $210 million series D in 2014.

Today’s announcement also said that Ola is pretty close to securing another $1 billion as part of the current round. According to its Crunchbase entry, the amount raised so far is more than $3 billion.

Reports suggest that the latest round, when completed, values Ola at $7 billion.

Ola, which only started out in 2010, said that it would use the latest injection for “strategic investments in supply, technology, and cutting edge innovations”. Like many of its peers in the mobility sector it has moved beyond being a taxi-booking app and now has 14 different products and services available in India all bookable through its app. It is active in 110 different cities.

Recent developments include a number of partnerships with regional tourism bodies in India. The most recent tie-up is with the Assam Tourism Development Corporation. It also has relationships with Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The template for its relationship with tourism authorities brings Ola onto the periphery of the tours and activities sector. Drivers are trained as tour guides, authenticated by the tourism bodies and assigned specific routes and itineraries taking in local attractions, with drivers often using branded vehicles. Joint marketing efforts promote the service to visitors.

The idea of using a taxi driver as a tour guide is not new, but the scale at which Ola operates could turn this into a mainstream component of trips to India. Whether or not this taxi-driver-as-tour-guide approach would work in other markets is of little interest to Ola as India is its only point of sale. For other taxi app – sorry, mobility – businesses with a global reach, however, the proposition is intriguing.

Related reading from tnooz:

Daimler brings Via’s on-demand ride-share to Europe with $50 million JV (Sept17)
Didi move spotlights potential activities play (Dec16)
Ola adds an in-house tours and activities option for customers (April17)

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