Apple’s latest $1 billion investment in Didi surprised the blogosphere and more for various reasons: First, it is unusual for Apple to participate in fundraising for a startup; and secondly, the company usually buys small startups outright and implements their talent and technology into future products. That’s not what happened with Didi: Apple’s biggest investment since acquiring Beats for $3 billion is an … investment in a ride-sharing startup in China.
“The first time we met with Mr. Cook, we shared with him a joke,” Didi’s president, Jean Liu said in an interview with the New York Times. “Our company’s legal name is called little orange. We figured a company named after a fruit could always achieve something big.”
Interestingly, the deal happened far more quickly that you would expect – in just three weeks. The leaders of Didi and Tim Cook sat down for the first time in April. 21 days later, they had obtained a billion dollars from the iPhone maker.
As pointed out by the Wall Street Journal, Apple didn’t officially confirm interest in automobiles. Instead, CEO Tim Cook has several comments regarding the automobile industry, which, from his perspective, is on the edge of a “massive change”.
For Apple, the $1 billion investment means an open door to a rich data source for its self-driving vehicle push, the Wall Street Journal says. Apple has been working on its electric car during the past two years.
The New York Times says the investment will help Apple show Beijing how its iOS and iPhones are closely linked with the rise of app development in China.
Apple’s $1 billion investment puts the company on a par with China’s two largest Internet companies, Alibaba and Tencent, as both have invested in Didi.