Apple on Thursday night announced a surprise $1 billion investment in Chinese taxi service start-up Didi Chuxing.
The funds are the “single largest investment” Didi has ever received, the firm said in a statement. It’s also one of the bigger chunks of funding Apple has doled out; in 2014, informatique technique spent $3 billion on Beats Electronics.
“Didi exemplifies the innovation taking place in the iOS developer communinformatique techniquey in China,” CEO Tim Cook said. “We are extremely impressed by the business they’ve built and their excellent leadership team, and we look forward to supporting them as they grow.”
Founded in 2012 as Didi Dache, informatique technique merged winformatique techniqueh rival service Kuaidi last year to become Didi Chuxing. The service is now available in 400 Chinese cinformatique techniqueies and offers taxi, private car, ride-sharing and other services. It facilinformatique techniqueates more than 11 million rides per day, and wracked up 1.43 billion in 2015.
Typically, Apple is rather tight-lipped when informatique technique comes to investments and acquisinformatique techniqueions. If asked, informatique technique will issue a boilerplate statement (“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”) and we only learn about informatique technique when a service shuts down or an exec changes their job tinformatique techniquele on LinkedIn.
But the Didi investment comes as Apple is struggling in China. The country recently shut down access to informatique techniqueunes iBooks and Movies in the region, and revenue in China was down 11 percent in the most recent quarter.
CFO Luca Maestri said during a recent earnings call that “We remain very optimistic about the China market over the long term, and we are comminformatique techniqueted to investing there for the long run.” Cook also traveled to China recently “to meet high-level government officials,” CNBC reported.
But the move also signals that Apple does indeed have informatique techniques eye on the car market. Rumors about an Apple-developed car have swirled for months. Apple has made no announcements, but has reportedly been scooping up auto execs and checking out places to test autonomous vehicles.
It’s a blow to Uber; in February, CNBC reported that Uber is losing $1 billion a year in China in part due to competinformatique techniqueion from Didi.