Bengaluru-based cab hailing unicorn Ola is said to be in talks with technology giant Microsoft to raise fresh funds.
PTI report said that Microsoft may invest $150 Mn-$200 Mn in Ola and the deal, which is in advanced stages, may be finalised in next 15-20 days. It said that Ola and Microsoft will continue their deep technology partnership in areas like cloud. The report added that the companies will also collaborate on emerging mobility technology, especially connected vehicles.
Founded in 2011 by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, Ola started as a cab-hailing service and since then expanded its services to include electric vehicles, micro-credit, food delivery and micro-insurance and now, self-driving car rentals. Till now, Ola has raised around $3.28 Bn in funding from prolific investors such as Ratan Tata, Sachin Bansal, Steadview Capital and more.
However, if this funding goes through, it would be a new sector of investment for Microsoft which has been investing heavily in new age technologies. The company through its corporation as well as specific startup programmes has been a regular investor in the ecosystem.
Interestingly, Microsoft and Ola have been working together for the last few years. The tie-up began in 2017 when the companies came together to build a new connected vehicle platform for car manufacturers worldwide.
As part of this strategic partnership, Ola announced that Microsoft will be a preferred cloud provider and will use Microsoft Azure to power Ola Play, the company’s existing connected car platform.
Microsoft has been investing towards mobility-as-a-service, and had set up Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP). It said this is the digital chassis upon which automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can deliver value-add services to their customers.
With an eye on futuristic mobility solutions, Ola is already working on electric mobility and recently launched self drive rental option as well. The company has been developing its products across multiple facets of mobility industry and Microsoft’s investment may serve as another enabling feature for Ola’s growth.
On its part, Ola announced its plans to set up Advanced Technology Centre in San Francisco Bay area and build a team of over 150 engineers. The centre aimed to build cutting-edge technology solutions to accelerate Ola’s ambitions across electric mobility and connected vehicles as well as lead futuristic experiments like autonomous vehicles.
Several Indian startups today are working on leveraging valued content through customisation for its users. In one such effort, as Ola continues to leverage and develop new age technologies with Microsoft, an investment in the company may further reaffirm Ola’s global expansion drive.
Update: October 30, 2019| 11:45 AM
Media reports surfaced that Ola may be valued between $9.5 Bn-$10 Bn with Microsoft’s investment. Microsoft will acquire nearly 5% in ANI Technologies and also get some stake in Ola Electric.