SoftBank eyes next Uber: invests $100M into taxi app maker 99

SoftBank extended its exposure to the ride-hailing app sector with a $100 million investment in Brazil-based on-demand private car and taxi-hailing service 99.

The Japan-headquartered company’s investment adds to existing funding of over $100 million provided by companies including Didi Chuxing and Riverwood in January 2017, bringing the total amount raised by 99 to over $200 million.

SoftBank’s backing for 99 builds on the Japanese company’s previous investments in ride-hailing companies Didi, Ola and Grab.

“We see strong growth and a great outlook for the mobility solutions sector in Latin America. We are committed to supporting local champions like 99, and look forward to participating in their long-term success”

– SoftBank MD David Thevenon said.

The funding is the largest investment round so far in a Brazilian startup, 99 quoted research firm FactSet as saying. The company plans to use the capital to strengthen its peer-to-peer service, 99POP, in a bid to establish the service as the leading platform for private drivers in Brazil, and expand it to other countries in Latin America.

Peter Fernandez, CEO of 99, said: “We are confident in our ability to strengthen our leadership in peer-to-peer transportation services in Brazil and in Latin America.”

He said the number of weekly 99POP rides have grown tenfold since Didi’s investment. According to Reuters, 99POP competes directly with Uber, and wants to attract drivers by offering a larger slice of passenger payments than the rival service.

Operating since 2012, 99 is Brazil’s largest local shared mobility provider and connects more than 200,000 drivers to around 14 million registered users in 400 cities.

SoftBank’s transaction remains subject to customary closing conditions, including approval from the Brazilian antitrust commission.

99 said its mission is to: “make transportation more affordable, faster and safer, in a socially conscious way that prioritizes driver welfare and collaboration with local governments to improve quality of life in our cities”.

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