Hitch a ride

Ola at the crossroads

Ola started out as India’s Uber. It may have to become India’s Lyft

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In August 2016, it started as a whisper, water cooler gossip, a comment in passing but soon graduated to a serious conversation within Ola. By January 2017, the Indian unicorn, which was once valued at $5 billion, was often discussing it at its weekly meetings: it is losing market share to Uber. And it is nervous.

Ola is the largest—by fleet size—cab-hailing aggregator in India. It is present in 102 cities; Uber, in 29 of them. According to multiple sources,…

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