[THE INVESTOR] Kakao Mobility, a Kakao subsidiary which operates transportation service Kakao T, on Feb. 14 said it will acquire the entire stake in local carpool startup Luxi for 25.2 billion won (US$23.18 million).
Kakao’s latest purchase will supplement its key taxi-hailing service, according to the firm, especially during peak times when taxi demand is high.
“Luxi is a partner that deeply understands Kakao Mobility’s vision to make every travel moment fast, safe and convenient,” said Kakao Mobility CEO Jung Joo-hwan. “Kakao Mobility is preparing various ways for Kakao T’s sustainable growth and help users.”
The number of users of Kakao T -- a single platform that combines Kakao’s taxi hailing, chauffeur service and navigation -- surpassed 17 million last December, with more than 2.4 million requests a day.
But due to limited taxi supply -- especially during rush hours, late evenings and holiday seasons -- users cannot get a taxi when they need. For example, there were 230,000 taxi requests from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Kakao T on Dec. 18, but only 26,000 taxis were available at the time, meaning more than 80 percent of requests were not met, according to big data released by the firm.
Kakao said it will start discussing details on how to utilize Luxi’s carpool network with its taxi platform, by receiving opinions from industry officials and users, with heavy resistance from taxi industry in mind.
“We are very happy and proud to be with a great partner like Kakao Mobility,” said Choi Ba-da, Luxi CEO. “We will create services with the goal of supplementing public transportation segment while solving environmental issues, by introducing a safe and pleasant carpool culture.”
Founded in July 2014, Luxi launched its carpool service in 2016, leading the small local carpool market with Poolus. It has over 200,000 registered cars and 780,000 members.
Kakao Mobility is preparing to add corporate services on Kakao Taxi this year, as well as implement its mobile payment platform Kakao Pay into the app.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)