China’s Ride-Hailing Firm Didi to Lay Off 15 Percent Staff in 2019

February 19, 20199:56 am1352 views

Beijing-based ride hailing service provider, Didi Chuxing, is set to lay off 15 percent of its staff this year, a source said. The move is expected to affect about 2,000 people, marking the firm’s first major cut back as it grapples with regulatory scrutiny and public backlash over the murder of two of its users, Reuters reports.

During a meeting with management, Didi CEO Cheng Wei stated that the firm would focus on core mobility services and cut business units considered not critical to its main ride-hailing business in 2019, according to the source familiar with the matter.

Despite the layoff on certain area, the Chinese ride-hailing giant is aiming to hire more than 2,000 new employees to focus on safety technology, product engineering and international expansion. This way, the company could maintain its overall employee count.

Didi has been working to address consumer and government concerns over safety after a passenger was raped and killed by one of its drivers in August last year, about three months after another Didi user was murdered. A Chinese court has sentenced a man to death for the crime committed in August.

Concerns about safety have hobbled growth plans for Didi.

Didi, which successfully drove U.S.-based rival Uber out of China in 2016 to becoming the top ride-hailing player at home, is now facing financial strain due to competition from new entrants and the rise of bike-sharing services like Mobike.  This week, Chinese tech news website reported that Didi Chuxing lost 10.9 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in 2018.

Didi’s valuation exceeded $65 billion after its 2018 funding round and was considering an IPO as early as that year, sources have told Reuters. The privately held firm had been valued at $56 billion in a 2017 fundraising.

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