Mobile taxi service Uber has taken an entire industry by storm, turning millions of regular local drivers to part of the growing taxi platform. To do that, it had to shut down some of the other providers, but it is now upset when the same business practices are being used against them.
In China, Tencent Holdings has been removing anything to do with Uber on WeChat. The mobile messaging platform works as a hub for paying bills and other miscellaneous tasks, but Uber drivers cannot contact customer support or pay through WeChat, like the other major taxi service Didi Kuaidi.
The removals started happening in March, when Uber’s support account was shut down. All mentions of Uber were purged from WeChat by the end of the month, and Tencent has continued to remove any and all signs of the taxi service.
Tencent has a valuable stake in Didi Kuaidi, so we can see why the company would want all mentions of the rival removed. Didi Kuaidi was formed when the two largest taxi firms merged to compete heavily with Uber.
It is not the first time Tencent has shut down rivals on WeChat. In fact, the Chinese scene is much more aggressive when it comes to rivalries, with a lack of oversight and regulation into the scene allowing these companies to make anti-competitive and antitrust decisions without any punishment.
Uber’s senior vice president for business Emil Michael—the guy who tried to pay a million dollars to create fluff reports attacking an editor in chief—claims WeChat was a main source of connection between customers and the taxi firm. Without it, Uber is losing a lot of its potential in the region.
With plans to invest billions into the Chinese region, it is hard for Uber to face Didi Kuaidi on even ground. It does have some support in China, with Baidu investing £400 million into the taxi firm. Uber plans to go public inside of China with its local branch, allowing more consumer confidence in the country.
Didi Kuaidi is the most popular taxi service in the region, with over 75 per cent of customers choosing to use that service. Uber controls the other 15 per cent, despite having four of its top ten regions located in China and over one million rides per day.
It is unlikely to receive the support it wants from the Chinese government. Having already had its business offices raided by government officials. It seems the Chinese do not take kindly to an aggressive and dominant company entering into the market.
Even with the current situation in the country, Uber is planning to reach £16.6 billion in bookings by 2016. It is valued at £32 billion and has a goal to go public within 12 to 24 months.