Image: Jason Lee / Reuters
Cheng Wei, co-founder and chief executive of China’s largest ride-sharing service provider Didi Chuxing (Didi), has been named Forbes Asia’s Businessman of the Year for 2016.
The 33-year-old entrepreneur managed to fend off an aggressive challenge from international behemoth Uber, who agreed to sell its business in China to Cheng and quit the country.
According to Forbes Asia, Didi has attracted 300 million users in 400 Chinese cities in just four years. The service, which lets consumers digitally hail and pay for taxis, private cars, limousines and commuter buses commands 85% of China’s ride-sharing market, which Beijing research firm Analysys International estimates will reach 122 billion yuan ($17.7 billion) by end of this year and 286 billion yuan in 2018.
Born in a small town in landlocked Jiangxi province, Cheng didn’t excel at China’s all-important college entrance examinations, but eventually got into Beijing University of Chemical Technology, to major in business administration.
His turnaround moment came in 2005, when he joined Alibaba’s Shanghai office, where he met his future cofounder Wang Gang. Cheng and Wang set up their taxi-hailing business in 2012, Forbes Asia said in its statement. Didi’s renowned investors include Apple, some big-name global hedge funds and Asian heavyweights, as well as web giants Alibaba and Tencent. Uber, under its exit plan from China, invested an 18% stake in the company. Didi is currently valued at an estimated $35 billion.
“In choosing Cheng Wei as this year’s most notable business figure in Asia, we are taking a leap, as his Didi Chuxing is still closely held and far from profitable. At age 33, easily our youngest selectee, he should have plenty of time to bear out our wisdom,” said Tim Ferguson, Editor, Forbes Asia.
Didi has already formed a series of alliances with Uber’s smaller rivals. In addition to a stake in Lyft in Uber’s core US market, it has invested in ride-sharing firms Ola in India and GrabTaxi in Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, Cheng is aiming big. “We want to be the largest one-stop transportation platform in the world. We are working on everything that relates to transportation,” Cheng said.The full story can also be found here