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Inside Uber’s Mission Impossible in China

Photo: Art by Matt Vascellaro.

When trying to explain why Uber probably won’t beat its main ride-sharing rival in China, it’s hard to know where to begin.

UberChina’s Series B fundraising effort has been a long struggle, with many institutional investors in China frightened by UberChina’s losses as well as broader economic troubles in the country, according to three people who were involved in or officially briefed about the process. The search for a CEO for UberChina and general managers to fill vacancies in many individual cities yielded little fruit in 2015. Existing GMs, who run the P&L for their respective cities, have frequently expressed frustrations to their teams regarding the inability to tailor Uber’s product to Chinese users in order to better compete with incumbent Didi Kuaidi, say three people who’ve worked with the GMs. And from both the perspective of some riders and drivers, Uber’s service in China has deficiencies.

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