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Chinese Taxi Booking App Flags Down Funding, Alibaba Rumored to be Along For the Ride

Kuaidi Dache app

Chinese startup Kuaidi Dache (meaning “fast taxis”) has flagged down seed funding to help the taxi-finding service grow. Centered around apps for iPhone and Android, Kuaidi Dache claims to have 300,000 users across the two cities where it operates – Shanghai and nearby Hangzhou – and covers 30,000 existing city taxi drivers. The startup sees 20,000 daily rides taken via the app.

The funding amount hasn’t been revealed, but according to Chinese tech blog 36Kr it takes the form of input from Ameba Capital’s Li Zhiguo, as well as a reported seven-digit RMB (hundreds of thousands of US dollars) investment from e-commerce company Alibaba.

While the Alibaba stake isn’t confirmed officially, it wouldn’t be too surprising, since the online shopping giant has been a lot more interested in startups recently, acquiring the social music site Xiami at the beginning of this year. Plus, there are rumors that Alibaba has bought the mobile ads platform Umeng, and is thought to have ploughed money into the flirty chat app Momo. Also, there’s a nice synchronicity to Kuaidi Dache operating in Hangzhou, which is Alibaba’s hometown.

Kuaidi Dache will use the funding to bring more drivers on board – it already covers 70 percent of cabs in Hangzhou – and expand to new cities.

This particular startup has some rivals in this space, such as Yaoyao Zhaoche and Didi Dache. The latter one has been incorporated into the updated Baidu Maps mobile service; since Baidu Maps has over 80 million users of its smartphone apps, that should be a big boost to Didi Dache.

If you want to see how these taxi-finding apps work, check out this six-minute report from Chinese TV. The reporter tries out booking a cab via SMS and phonecalls and finds that it can be a slow and hit-and-miss affair; then, at the 4:35 mark in the report, she tries out the Kuaidi Dache app and gets a cab arriving at her feet in just five minutes:

(Sources: 36Kr (article in Chinese), via Marbridge)

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