The blocking comes shortly after the leading Chinese minicab app, and Uber competitor, Didi Kuaidi, raised $2bn of private equity funding from a raft of investors including e-commerce websiteAlibaba and the state development corporation CDC.
Also among Didi Kuaidi’s investors is Tencent, a holding company that has billions of yuans’ worth of investments including in the messaging app WeChat.
Uber doesn’t think that is a coincidence, and has begun to take the wars public. In an interview with Bloomberg, Emil Michael, Uber’s head of business, said that the company first experienced problems back in March, with profiles disappearing from the messaging service. By August, WeChat had banned or frozen all of Uber’s accounts, according to Michael.
WeChat integration is more important than simply allowing Uber to communicate with customers. As Connie Chan, of Uber investor Andreessen Horowitz, explains, being blocked from WeChat is somewhere between being kicked off Facebook and being banned from the entire internet. The app offers a payments infrastructure, a location-based services platform, and even the ability to build whole apps inside WeChat itself – none of which Uber can use without being on the platform.
In early August, Uber’s Hong Kong offices were raided as part of an investigation into the company’s operations in the territory. Three staff members were arrested, as well as five drivers, over the “illegal use of vehicles for hire” after undercover police used the Uber app to hail cars.
This article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Monday 24th August 2015 15.36 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010