South Korean car-sharing and ride-hailing startup SoCar announced on Friday that it attracted a new 60 billion won ($52.5 million) investment from private equity firms, achieving unicorn status with a valuation of 1 trillion won ($872.6 million).
The investment is seen as a comeback for SoCar after the government forced its van-hailing service to stop operations due to the revised transportation law. In March, the National Assembly passed a revision bill aimed at banning TADA, a car-sharing service operated by VCNC and owned by SoCar.
SoCar said that the combined investment from SG Private Equity and Songhyun Investment helped the company to reach the 1 trillion won mark. The firm’s achievement led to its listing as the 12th unicorn company in South Korea and as the first mobility-based unicorn. The unicorn list includes companies such as Coupang, Viva Republica, and Yanolja.
Growth and Competition
Started in 2011, SoCar aims to become the Korean version of Uber, through its ride-hailing affiliate VCNC. Tada, VCNC’s mobile app-based van-hailing service, earned explosive popularity with over 1.7 million users. So far, SoCar’s vehicles have grown to 120,000 with subscribers exceeding 6 million subscribers.
“Through the latest round of investment, Socar has shown its growth potential amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
-Park Jae-wook, SoCar CEO
Park added that the company would strengthen its car-sharing programs for business customers, increase competitiveness by recruiting talent, and improve services. SoCar also expanded its business to franchise taxi and designated driver services.
The mobility startup said that it would use the latest funding to develop big data and artificial intelligence technology to advance new mobility services. This would help the startup to grow exponentially.
SoCar also plans to enter the online used car sales industry, recently registering a trademark for such business.
Recently, mobile network operator SK Telecom joined forces with Uber to launch new mobility services within the first half of next year. SK Telecom also plans to spin off its automotive services unit, T Map Mobility.
Check out other must-read articles from KoreaTechToday:
- Tada Operator VCNC Files Appeal against Revised Transport Act
- S. Korea’s SoCar Secures 51 Bn Won Amid Legal Setbacks
- Kakao Mobility Rapidly Scaling Up Taxi Service to Compete with Tada