Uber and its archrival Didi Chuxing lead the global ride-hailing business after burning billions of dollars to win market share. But the survival of a small Hong Kong upstart that has fended off the industry’s behemoths raises questions about their costly formula for success. Do you always need to deploy billions of dollars to recruit drivers and subsidize passengers’ fares in order to succeed?
HKTaxi, a five-year-old taxi-hailing app founded by two college buddies, has managed to hold on to the Hong Kong market against the likes of Didi and Uber despite a fairly limited initial investment. Today, the app claims 60% share in a city where the overall taxi market is worth HK$13 billion, or $1.6 billion a year. It has recruited 45,000 taxi drivers, who pick up traditional fares on the street in addition to responding to ride requests via the app. It handles about 35,000 trips a day, the company said.