Apple just made a massive bet on both China and the ride-hailing industry with a $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hail company recently valued at $25 billion. BuzzFeed News confirmed the investment with Apple.
The move is a major play in China for Apple, where the company has recently struggled and faced heightened regulations on its services. It also gives it an instant stake in ride-hail, and to some extent pits it against its neighbor, Uber.
"We are making the investment for a number of strategic reasons, including a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market," Apple CEO Tim Cook told Reuters.
Didi, which is also backed by Tencent and Alibaba, says it has nearly 300 million users in 400 Chinese cities. In a statement, CEO Cheng Wei called the investment, the largest it has ever received, an "enormous encouragement and inspiration for our four-year-old company." Other Chinese and international investors also participated in the funding round, per the press release.
Uber, the leading US ride-hail service, is seven years old, valued at over $60 billion, and, according to CEO Travis Kalanick, has been spending over $1 billion every year in an attempt to win the China market.
This isn't Apple's only automotive play. In addition to this step onto Uber's turf, Apple is reportedly hard at work on an electric car, an effort it calls "Project Titan." It also has CarPlay, an in-car system that’s already in the market.
The investment comes as the company reported a decline in both iPhone sales and revenue last month, the first time the company's revenue has declined since 2003.
Uber declined to comment.
Caroline O'Donovan is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
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