Global tech

Ola vamos? Reports suggest Uber’s Indian rideshare rival is quitting Australia, but it’s impossible to confirm

- April 9, 2024 2 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock
Ola, the Indian rideshare company that rocked up in Australia in 2018 is reportedly leaving town at the end of the week

News Corp titles and Sky News are reporting that customers were sent emails today saying the company will cease local operations at the end of the week.

But Startup Daily, a former frequent Ola user (TBH, attempts to book on the app over the past year have been a bit, well, *checks Uber/train timetable*…) has not received an email and has been unable to confirm the rideshare app’s demise.

There is no message on the app about “discontinuing operations” from April 12.

And nothing on the platform’s Australian social media channels, which have mostly been gathering cobwebs since the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Ola Australia’s last post on the former Twitter was in July 2021 wishing Harry Potter happy birthday.

There’s nothing on the Ola website. Its last post for media was in 2018 when it launched. And attempts to email the company on its website media contact address bounced.

Trying the app on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, Ola offered to get Startup Daily across Sydney’s CBD from the Art Gallery of NSW to Barangaroo for $8-14.

Or to Palm Beach where early-stage Canva investors have holiday houses, for $147-163.

Please wear a mask. Image: Ola app

A Silver Service taxi offered a fixed price of $156.

The first distance is 11 minutes to cover 2.4km, the second 81 minutes and 43km.

The Ola app purportedly showed 3-4 cars in the area for the booking. Booking requests are met with a pop up on Covid-19 asking users to “please wear a mask”, “check in with the vehicle’s QR code” and “not breach any COVID restrictions in effect”.

The last NSW Covid restrictions ended in 2022. Mandatory QR code use in NSW ended in December 2021. The mandatory wearing of masks on public transport ended in September 2022.

Sky News reports that the email sent to customers says: “You must not take any rides with any vehicle purporting to be an Ola vehicle or Ola driver from 12th April 2024″, claiming that customers have until May 11 to access account information before a permanent lock out.

Ola came to Australia in 2018 in the wake of Uber clearing the path for rideshare and making it legal in several major cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Adelaide, Canberra and Perth.

It created competition in the rideshare market, for both drivers and customers, ahead of Chinese ridesharing giant Didi launching in Sydney in 2020.

Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati founded Ola in India in 2011.

Living through the glory days of VC funding, the company banked US$5bn in funding.

If a startup dies in the city and there’s no one using it, did it ever really exist?


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