South Korean ride-sharing firm SoCar secures $44m to pump up R&D

SoCar, which offers its services via a website and mobile app, is the largest car-sharing company in South Korea.

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South Korean ride-sharing firm SoCar secures $44m to pump up R&D

SoCar, the South Korean eco-friendly ride-hailing operator, is reportedly improving its mobile services platform after receiving around W50 billion (US$44 million) from four venture capital firms, bringing its total funding amount to date to US$174.1 million from four rounds.

The Series D funding round was backed by Silicon Valley-based Altos Ventures, SoftBank Ventures Korea, KB Investment, and Stonebridge Ventures and followed a US$57-million investment from local private equity firm IMM Private Equity in April of last year, based on Crunchbase data.

The company said it will utilise the fresh funds to invest in research and development to improve mobility services through its platform. Last year, the company used its Series C funds in acquiring messenger app startup VCNC and launching van-sharing service Tada.

SoCar, which offers its services via a website and mobile app, is the largest car-sharing company in South Korea, boasting approximately 3,200 car rental zones, 11,000 vehicles, and 4.5 million registered users. It first raised US$18 million in its Series A funding round in 2014, followed by another US$56 million in November 2015.

Early in 2018, SoCar launched its services in Malaysia by establishing 120 zones with 240 cars in the country, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

According to data compiled by statistics portal Statista, South Korea’s ride-hailing revenue is expected to hit US$528 million this year, with the market volume forecast to reach US$694 million by 2023. The country’s ride-hailing space offers huge potential as user penetration remains low at 9.6%.

The ride-sharing industry, however, is not well embraced by all South Koreans, especially taxi drivers who are ready to even give up their lives just to protest the ride-sharing service. Last week, a South Korean taxi driver set himself on fire as part of a nationwide protest against ride-sharing service. In 2015, Uber shut down its main ride-sharing service in the country due to an extensive backlash from cab drivers.

Editor: Ben Jiang