By Conor White
Travel behemoth Booking Holdings, the company formerly known as Priceline, can add another service to its roster after announcing a $500 million investment in Chinese ride-sharing app Didi on Tuesday.
"We're going to have them power their app through our app," explained Booking CEO Glenn Fogel on Tuesday during an interview with Cheddar. "So, if you're using Booking.com or Agoda.com ー which are ways you can get great hotels around the world ー you'll go on our app, and be able to get that ride right from the airport."
Most Americans may not be familiar with Didi, but the company is well-known aboard.
"Think of them as the Uber of China," said Fogel. "They are by far the leading ride-share company there."
Fogel's analogy is not unfounded: Didi, last valued at $50 billion compared to $62 billion for Uber, provides transportation services for more than 450 million users across over 400 cities in China. The company's stranglehold on that market is so strong that Uber was forced to bow out in 2016 and sold its local operations to Didi for $35 billion.
And Fogel sees a lot more opportunity in the country.
"When you look at the number of planes that are going to be delivered to Chinese airlines over the next 10 years, it's a huge number," he noted. "When you see the number of airports that China's building, that's another sign that the tourist area in China is going to continue to grow very strong. That's why we're invested there."
While Didi has a monopoly on ride-sharing in China, it faces more competition in other markets like Australia and Mexicoーwhere other ride-sharing companies have surfaced.
But Fogel isn't worriedーnor does he think the market is a zero-sum game.
"I wouldn't put it out there as sort of a 'winner take all' at all. I think there's lots of companies that are doing very well and will continue to do well, and I think Didi will be one of those successful stories in many places around the world."
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