Sep 15, 2015 · 1 minute

Ola is reportedly raising $500 million at a $5 billion valuation, with terms and investors to be announced in coming weeks.

I read this on TechCrunch yesterday.

I have no direct evidence or sourcing but here's a pretty safe bet... the round will have one of the following in it:

  • Coatue
  • Didi Kuadi
  • Alibaba
  • Tencent

Softbank-- backer of Didi and Singapore’s GrabTaxi-- is already in Ola. And this fivesome of investors that between them have backed Uber’s largest rival in the US, Lyft (Coatue, Didi, Alibaba, and Tencent); Uber’s only real competition anywhere in the world, but specifically in China (All are in Didi); GrabTaxi in Singapore (Coatue, Didi and Softbank); and Ola in India (Just far).

India is yet another market Uber doesn’t understand. Another market where it’s trying to come from behind. Ola is in over 100 cities to Uber’s 20-ish in India. And it’s yet another sprawling Asian market where Uber has blindly pledged $1 billion to try to buy its way in.

For those keeping score: That’s $2.5 billion between India and China. Uber has “only” ever raised $7 billion, and that last go-round at a whopping $50 billion price. Even for Uber, up rounds are going to start getting harder to pull off…particularly if it’s breathless up-and-to-the-right global growth story is getting, ahem, complicated. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has already said China could be its largest market by year end. What happens to the price when the Chinese government inevitably bans Uber?

But back to Uber’s fearsome fivesome. India is as different a market from Singapore or China as those markets are from the US. But that’s the key-- none of these companies are competing in each other’s home turf. They’re merely helping one another bleed Uber out in subsidies, keep each other’s coffers replenished, and -- no doubt-- swapping secrets of being spoilers. And-- yunno-- hoping to make a good return.

Documents filed in India has shown Softbank at least has reupped in this round. I’d be stunned if there wasn’t at least a token amount from one of the other members of the fearsome fivesome. (Even if we discover it months later.)