India’s Jugnoo adopts a unique take on ride-hailing to help fill Singapore’s Uber void

Another contender is throwing its hat into the ring to replace Uber in Southeast Asia after India’s Jugnoo, a startup that specializes in offering autorickshaws on-demand in India, revealed it plans to enter Singapore.

Uber announced its exit from Southeast Asia last month in a deal that sees Grab buy its regional business, and since then a number of companies have stepped into the void. Those include $4 billion-valued heavyweight Go-Jek, which has held talks with top taxi operator ComfortDelGro, and newer names like Ryde and U.S.-based Arcade City, but Jugnoo is perhaps even less expected.

Away from the main stage fight between Ola and Uber in India, Jugnoo has quietly buckled down and built a business that founder and CEO Samar Singla told TechCrunch is profitable with around 10 percent of the country’s e-hailing volumes. Key to that, he said, has been a focus on more rural areas of the country and its B2B logistics service. Uber briefly ran a competing service in 2015, while Ola is pushing its rickshaw offerings towards electric vehicles.

Jugnoo plans to take a unique approach in Singapore, where it will launch a car-on-demand service that uses a “reverse-bidding” model. That’s a play on bidding systems — which incentivize passengers to offer a tip to land a driver for their requested journey — that instead lets drivers jostle to ‘win’ a passenger’s journey. So a user makes a request to go from A to B, and then picks the driver with the price — or perhaps car, or driver rating — that they prefer.

“Drivers will bid so we hope it will be beneficial to consumers,” Singla said in an interview, admitting that the system may need to be fine-tuned further down the line. “Singapore customers are open, educated and understanding of startup models.”

Jugnoo founder and CEO Samar Singla

The company was lured to Singapore as part of a government initiative to contact potential ride-hailing services post Uber-Grab . Jugnoo claims to have signed up over 100 drivers in the past two days, and it is aiming to grow that number to at least 500 before the service launches.

“If we say we will go and compete with Uber, Grab, Didi and others on their home turf and with their money, that would be quite stupid,” the Jugnoo CEO explained. “We think this could be a decent niche. Our goal is around 10 percent market share [and] to be a sustainable company.”

The opportunistic move will be Jugnoo’s first expansion outside of India. Singla is optimistic that it can figure out alternative ways to compete in other parts of the world, which could potentially include markets outside of Southeast Asia, in the future.

Jugnoo has taken $16 million from investors to date, according to Crunchbase. Its most recent raise was a $10 million Series B round that closed in 2016.

That’s small pennies for Grab, which raised a round of more than $2 billion led by SoftBank and Didi last year at a valuation of $6 billion. To date, the Singapore-based firm has pulled in over $4 billion in capital from investors.

China’s Didi Chuxing launches its ride-hailing service in Mexico

China’s ride-sharing leader Didi Chuxing has continued its global march after it officially launched in Mexico, expanding its battle with Uber to a new front.

The company raised $4 billion in December to expand overseas and it hasn’t held back on doing so this year.

Hot on the heels of moves into Brazil, Taiwan and Japan, Didi has confirmed its entry into Mexico with the launch of its UberX -style Express service in the city of Toluca. The company said it plans to expand its services into “other major cities” in Mexico later this year. Uber entered the country in 2013, and it currently operates in over 40 cities there.

Didi initially began hiring drivers in Mexico back in April, as was widely reported by media at the time. It said its teams in Beijing and California — where it opened an AI office last year — were involved in developing its service for the Mexican market, which looks like a litmus test for future expansions.

Didi said it is targeting Latin America because it is the world’s third-largest ride-hailing market behind the U.S. and China, with Mexico itself a target market thanks to a large base of 70 million internet users.

“The market is way from saturated, and we are glad to see the local market is not only very welcome to more services but they also understand how beneficial competition in the region is for the final user,” a Didi spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Didi’s office in Toluca, Mexico

The interesting part of the news that goes beyond Toluca is that this is Didi’s first organic expansion, although it isn’t its first step outside of Greater China.

Didi took an acquisition route into Brazil — where it bought local operator 99 for around $1 billionit used a franchise-based model to move into Taiwan in January, and it is still weighing up options in Japan having teamed up with SoftBank to commit to launching local services before the end of this year.

“We’re exploring every possibility of expanding our business in the international market,” the company said. “When doing so, we will work with leading local partners in some markets, and look for opportunities in others to build a robust local team with strong commitment to the region.”

Those international moves reignite Didi’s direct rivalry with Uber, which ended in 2016 when the Chinese firm acquired Uber’s China-based business.

While the main fight may be over, these new markets are shaping up to become key battlegrounds.

Brazil is a market where Uber has pledged to double down following its exit from the costly Southeast Asia market while the U.S. firm is also placing emphasis on Japan, which is one of the planet’s most lucrative taxi markets but dominated by traditional taxi operators. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi visited Japan for the first in February, holding what he described as promising talks with taxi operators who Uber is seeking to work with directly — although taxi companies themselves run a successful rival to Uber.

Didi also rivals Uber indirectly through the network of companies it has invested in, which includes Careem in the Middle East, Taxify in Europe, Lyft in North America, and Ola in India. Its business in China claims 30 million daily rides and 21 million driver partners.

Singapore orders Grab to delay closing Uber app for an additional 3 weeks

Grab’s plan to shutter Uber’s app quickly following its merger deal in Southeast Asia has hit another snag in Singapore where the ride-hailing firm has been forced to delay closing its rival’s service until May 7.

This is the second time that Grab has pushed back the removal of Uber’s app in Singapore, which was initially scheduled for closure on April 8 but was given an additional week as part of an investigation from the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) which is assessing the merger deal. This new May 7 date is also down to the CCCS probe, with the commission issuing an ‘Interim Measures Directions’ (IMD) to Grab in order to “ensure that the market remains open and contestable.”

Those directives — which Grab said it has had a hand in formulating — include measures that prevent Grab from taking Uber’s operational data on customers and their trip history, prevent lock-in and exclusivity options for drivers that join Grab or move over from Uber’s Lion City Rental entity, and end any exclusive deals Grab has with Singapore taxi firms.

The CCCS has also ruled that Grab and the Uber service must maintain prices for passengers and drivers, and remind both that their migration to the Grab platform is optional.

The ruling impacts the Singapore market only, which is where Grab is registered. The Uber app has already been closed in six other markets where it operated in Southeast Asia, while the UberEats service will fold into GrabFood by the end of May. Elsewhere, Uber’s ride-hailing service is scheduled to be closed on April 16 in the Philippines where, like Singapore, the regulator had handed down a week-long extension while it looked into the merger deal.

In both extensions, Grab is the one footing the bill for the continued operation of Uber since the U.S. firm has already exited these markets, in terms of funding and staffing, Uber’s head of operations for Asia Pacific has said.

The CCCS previously said that it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the Grab-Uber deal may fall foul of section 54 of Singapore’s Competition Act. The Philippine Competition Commission is still looking into the and there’s no word on whether it will follow the CCCS’ lead and force Grab to keep the Uber app open for a longer period.

The Singapore ruling is a blow for Grab which set out an aggressive two-week timeframe for closing Uber in Southeast Asia, having contacted regulators in advance of the deal which sees it pick up a dominant slice of app-based taxi books across eight countries in Southeast Asia. The key question for regulators, however, appears to be whether app-based hailing is a market unto itself, or whether it is part of the wider taxi market.

If regulators chose the former option, then Uber-Grab almost certainly creates a monopoly, but since consumers can also hail apps in more traditional ways — e.g. on the street — or via taxi companies’ dedicated apps — as is the case in Singapore — then the deal hasn’t created a dominant player. It’s certainly a tricky one to assess.

Meanwhile, here is Grab’s statement on the Uber app extension and the IMD:

We appreciate that CCCS accepted our alternative interim measures. On CCCS’ request, we have agreed to extend the Uber app to 7 May to allow for a smoother transition time for riders and drivers. We trust that the CCCS’ review takes into account a dynamic industry that is constantly evolving, highly competitive, and being disrupted by technology and new services. The interim measures should not have the unintended effect of hampering competition and restricting businesses that have already been investing in the country over the years.

Grab notes the CCCS’ objective of giving drivers choice, and is fully supportive of extending our platform to all taxi drivers, including ComfortDelGro drivers who are still constrained from picking up JustGrab jobs. Grab entered Singapore five years ago with minimal resources and the goal of enabling all taxi drivers to earn a better living using our platform. We recognise CCCS’ commitment to preserving competition; all companies – no matter big or small, digital or traditional – are capable of innovation in a free market.

We’re proud to headquarter in Singapore, where the country’s free market economy and policies enable businesses to compete and innovate vigorously to solve customer needs. We trust the government will continue to be pro-business in providing a path for startups to flourish and become sustainable businesses. We will work within the set constraints and continue to focus on building better products to compete, ensuring fairness for passengers and drivers, and cultivating the local tech talent pool through our regional R&D centre in Singapore.

Note: The original version of this story was updated to correct that Grab said it had been in contact with regulators prior to announcing the deal with Uber. Also corrected the name of its food delivery service is GrabFood.

Lyft breaks down how much drivers can make

How much drivers can make working for Lyft and Uber has long been a topic of conversation and third-party studies. Now, Lyft is providing some more clarity around how much people can make driving for its platform.

“Understandably, we’ve seen a few external groups take their own guesses at what Lyft drivers make, usually as an hourly average across the country,” Lyft Head of Driver Communications and Community Laura Copeland wrote on Medium. “This is an important topic, so we want to help set the record straight, and then shed some light on our approach to helping drivers earn the most with us.”

Wages, of course, depend on a variety of factors, like the market, number of trip requests accepted, time of day, length of trip, whether it’s surging and so on. On an hourly basis, Lyft says it’s most certain about how much money drivers make once they’ve accepted and completed a ride (periods two and three). In this type of scenario, Lyft says median earnings are $29.47 per hour, nationwide. In Lyft’s top 25 markets, that’s $31.18 per hour.

But when you factor in the amount of time spent online (period one), when drivers are waiting for rides, that comes out to $18.83 per hour nationwide and $21.08 per hour in Lyft’s top 25 markets.

Of course, this is not the final takeaway amount for drivers, when you factor in taxes, gas, car maintenance and all of that good stuff. Lyft points to The Rideshare Guy’s estimate of expenses of $3 to $5 per hour.

Last month, Uber provided some clarity about what people can make driving for the company:

For example, a study we conducted with Alan Krueger of Princeton found that drivers across 20 of Uber’s largest US markets earned an average of $19.04 per hour, in October 2015. A more recent study with Stanford professors estimated gross hourly earnings of $21.07¹ for all US drivers between January 2015 and March 2017.

You can check out Uber’s full analysis here.