We are on an investment mode in India: Uber

Close on the heels of a USD 3.5 billion fund raise, cab aggregator Uber said it is on an “investment mode” in the country and will continue to spend on bringing in more customised offerings.

Uber has expanded its service areas in Chennai.(Reuters)

Close on the heels of a $ 3.5 billion fund raise, cab aggregator Uber said it is on an “investment mode” in the country and will continue to spend on bringing in more customised offerings.

The company, which counts India as its third biggest market after the US and China, said it saw 26 times growth in the country in 2015 compared to the previous year.

“We are on investment mode in India. Every country is different and you have to customise in every market, even as the technology back bone remains the same. We have customised the app to work on low network conditions, we introduced cash payment here, which was a global first,” Uber India President Amit Jain told PTI.

He further said India is a strategic market and it remains bullish on the country, where it has grown exponentially over the last two years.

In July last year, Uber had announced an investment of $ 1 billion (nearly Rs 6,652 crore) in India to expand its services here. It has also set up a response and support centre in Hyderabad with an investment of $ 50 million.

It has also started leasing cars to driver partners, an addition to its balance sheet, as it looks to attract more driver partners to its platform in the country.

Jain did not comment if Uber has exhausted the earlier earmarked sum.

Earlier this week, Uber had raised $ 3.5-billion (nearly Rs 23,284 crore) funding from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Jain said a “substantial portion” of the fresh funding would come to India. “With this investment, we have more than USD 11 billion in our global war chest to invest in our product and markets to grow and compete,” Jain said.

The funds will help the US-based firm compete head-on with local rival, Ola, which is backed by investors like Japanese firm SoftBank and China’s Didi Kuaidi.

Jain, however, declined to comment on the timeline to hit profits in the Indian market.

“We are a for-profit company and there is a definite path to profitability. I will not be able to talk about the time it will take to get there,” he said.

Uber has hit black in its home market as well as certain European countries.

Last year, Uber made $ one billion in profits from its top 30 cities of operations, Jain said without disclosing the names of the cities.

Uber is available in over 400 cities across 70 countries. In India, it is available in 27 cities, more than any other country outside the US and China.

Talking about regulatory challenges in India, Jain said these exist across countries.

“These (regulatory challenges) are both a concern and opportunity. This (cab aggregation) is a new area of business. As technology moves at a fast pace, regulations have to keep pace and evolve.

“We are engaged with government across levels to ensure compliance and are committed to ensuring growth for driver partners and smooth experience for customers,” he said.

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First published on: 05-06-2016 at 12:40 IST
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