Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing on Thursday evening announced that it has raised $1 billion in strategic equity funding from Apple (AAPL), as part of an ongoing fundraising round that reportedly could raise a total of $2 billion at around a $25 billion valuation.
The new investment should help Didi Chuxing better compete in China with Uber, and also could provide a boost to some of Didi’s international partners, such as Lyft. There is no explicit information, however, about what Apple hopes to gain, nor whether the investment is confirmation of long-held Silicon Valley speculation that the iPhone maker is interested in producing (or at least designing) its own automobiles. Apple also might be trying to distract Uber, particularly if it’s further along on its own autonomous car plans than is publicly known.
“Didi exemplifies the innovation taking place in the iOS developer community in China,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a prepared statement. “We are extremely impressed by the business they’ve built and their excellent leadership team, and we look forward to supporting them as they grow.”
According to a Didi Chuxing spokesman, Apple will not receive a board seat in conjunction with its investment. The company also says that it now completes over 11 million rides per day via its platform, working with over 14 million drivers in more than 400 Chinese cities.
Existing Didi Chuxing investors include Alibaba Group (BABA), SoftBank, Beijing Automotive, Ping An Insurance Group, Tencent, Tiger Global Management, Coature Management and D.E. Shaw.
Apple does not have a venture capital unit, so it would be making this investment off of its balance sheet.