1. Didi Chuxing announces autonomous taxi pilot for Shanghai
Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing giant, announced plans to launch a robotaxi service in Shanghai where users will be able to hail driverless cars from the app. Didi will deploy 30 different models of so-called level four autonomous vehicles in the Jiading district of Shanghai. Level four self-driving cars have a high degree of autonomy but a driver can still manually take control.
After its initial pilot launch in Shanghai, Didi will look to expand its offerings to Beijing and Shenzhen as well, with hopes to be live in all three cities by 2020.
Didi is the largest ride-hailing company in China, and beat out an attempt by Uber to establish a presence in the market, resulting in Uber selling its Chinese business to Didi and exiting the market in 2016.
Earlier this month, Didi also announced that it was spinning out its autonomous driving unit as a separate company.
2. WeWork postpones long-awaited IPO
WeWork owner We Company postponed its initial public offering this week following deep skepticism about its business model, corporate governance and questions surrounding its valuation. Reuters reported last week that We Company was considering seeking a valuation in its IPO of between $10 billion and $12 billion, a steep discount from the $47 billion valuation it achieved in January.
Adam Neumann, WeWork’s co-founder and chief executive, told staff in a webcast on Tuesday that he was “humbled” by the shelving of the IPO and said he had lessons to learn about running a publicly listed company.
We Company said it still aimed to complete the IPO before the end of the year.
Without an infusion of new money, the company may have to slow or stop its expansion. In the first half of this year, it posted an operating loss of $1.37 billion and spent $1.5 billion running its business and building out its operations. It had nearly $2.5 billion of cash on hand at the end of June. The company has been under pressure to push ahead with the flotation to secure funding for its operations. We Company secured a $6 billion credit line from banks last month but can only access this if WeWork raises at least $3 billion from the IPO before the end of the year.
3. A glimpse to the future – Airbnb plans to go public next year
Airbnb, the home-sharing rental business, is to go public during 2020, the company said in a brief statement on Thursday.
The 11-year-old company stands to be among the biggest listings in 2020, having been valued at $31 billion in its most recent funding round. But a series of rocky debuts for other so-called unicorns has raised questions about the durability of investor demand for new offerings.
Airbnb was founded in 2008 by former roommates, Brian Chesky (CEO), Joe Gebbia (chief product officer), and Nathan Blecharczyk (chief strategy officer).
At first the company struggled with investor support, but in 2009 it picked up a $600,000 seed investment. In its third funding round, in 2011, Airbnb raised $112 million from investors that included Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos. In 2015, Airbnb picked up another $1.6 billion in venture capital and $1 billion in 2017, raising a total of $4.4 billion in venture capital investment.