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It took Uber five years to get to a billion rides, and its Chinese rival just did it in one

It took Uber five years to get to a billion rides, and its Chinese rival just did it in one


Everything is bigger in China

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Uber announced with some fanfare several weeks ago that it had completed a billion rides worldwide since its launch in 2009. Today that news seems downright quaint compared to the recent announcement from China's biggest ride-hail service, Didi Kuaidi: 1.43 billion rides in 2015 alone.

Didi says it achieved this eye-popping milestone across all seven of its main services, including private car, taxi, a carpooling service called Hitch, designated driver, bus, and enterprise services. (Two of these, Hitch and designated driver, were only introduced in June 2015.) The number is also nearly twice the total number of taxi rides in the US in 2015, the company says. In December, Didi completed over 200 million trips, or slightly higher than the total number of rides hailed in New York City in 2015.

Everything is bigger in China

Didi Kuaidi is a company made up of China's two largest taxi-hailing firms, Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, which merged in February 2015. The company has raised $4.4 billion in seven rounds of financing, and was valued at $16.5 billion as of last September. By comparison, Uber has raised $10 billion in capital and is said to be worth $62.5 billion. Didi says it has 250 million users in 360 Chinese cities, and holds 80 percent of the private car service market and 99 percent of the taxi-hailing market in China.

Didi's announcement today is meant to serve as the most recent warning to Uber, which is targeting both China and India as its next two potential markets to conquer. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick just made his maiden voyage to India to participate in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious startup initiative. And last October, Kalanick noted that 30 percent of Uber trips take place in China, which will become the focal point for the company's global expansion.

Last month, Didi announced it was partnering with and investing in Uber's arch nemesis, Lyft, as well as two other Asian ride-hail services, India's Ola and Southeast Asia's GrabTaxi. And in interviews, Didi's top executive has noted that it will continue to dominate the Asian markets because its business is much more diversified than Uber's.

The news is meant to position Didi as "the world's number one rideshare market," according to the company's statement, which is full of comparisons between taxi industries in China and the US (especially New York City). On Monday, Didi's founder and CEO Cheng Wei said that his company would continue to grow as it explores new products, such as carpooling and new ways of getting from point A to point B, like self-driving cars.