Ola buys Ridlr in bid to expand public transport business
Bengaluru: India’s largest cab-hailing firm Ola has bought transportation information provider Ridlr, as it looks to expand its fledgling public transportion business that has become an important battlefront in its fight with arch-rival Uber.
Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) and Ridlr (Birds Eye Systems Pvt. Ltd) didn’t disclose the financial terms of the deal, which involved both cash and stock.
Ola started out as a private cab aggregator in 2011, but it has since added auto rickshaws and yellow taxis. After a slow start, Ola’s auto rickshaw business has become a differentiator for the company against Uber over the past year.
With the acquisition of Ridlr, Ola plans to add bus, metro and train ticket bookings on its platform and try and become a hub of urban transportation for customers. Ridlr’s team of 64 employees, including founder Brijraj Vaghani, will join Ola.
The move to expand its public transportation business is one of Ola’s most ambitious efforts. Cab rides comprise a minuscule part of urban transportation. If Ola can build an early, meaningful lead in bus and train bookings, it will become difficult for Uber to catch up with its local rival. Ola and Uber, both of which count Japan’s SoftBank Group as their largest shareholder, have been locked in an expensive market-share battle.
“Public transportation serves millions of Indians every day, and powering these needs with real-time information, mobile ticketing, cashless payments, and reliable services is bound to impact their end-experience. The challenge really is to make the entire ecosystem inclusive and robust for all. Ridlr, in a short span, has made huge strides in this space, and this latest acquisition lends muscle to our efforts in making transportation a far more holistic service,” Ola co-founder and chief executive Bhavish Aggarwal said in a statement.
Mint had reported on 26 March that Ola was in talks to buy Ridlr.
Since starting out in 2012, Mumbai-based Ridlr had raised $7-8 million in capital. Its last funding round was in July 2016 when Times Internet, Matrix Partners and Qualcomm Ventures invested $6 million in the firm. Ridlr provides data on bus and train routes and prices in 19 cities and allows users to book tickets for public transportation services. It also provides real-time traffic information.
Matrix Partners, which is also a key investor in Ola, said it sold all of its shares in Ridlr for cash.
The acquisition of Ridlr is Ola’s second in the past four months. It’s looking for more.
Unlike some other unicorns such as Flipkart Ltd, Paytm (One97 Communications Ltd) and Quikr, Ola has not been a prolific buyer. But of late, Ola has increased its acquisition activity. In December, the firm spent $40-50 million to buy food ordering app Foodpanda from its German parent, Delivery Hero AG, to re-enter the food delivery business.
Avendus was the banker for Ridlr on the deal.