“Never get involved in a land war in Asia."
That, famously, is “one of the classic blunders” cited by Wallace Shawn’s Vizzini in The Princess Bride , just seconds before he dies of iocane poisoning. And if "getting involved in a land war in Asia" means “competing against domestic giants to gain market share in China,” then that’s a blunder which the likes of Google and Facebook have both managed to avoid. Uber, on the other hand, did get involved in the land war, and now it’s declared defeat.
On Sunday, news broke that Uber has thrown in the towel and reportedly decided to merge with China’s biggest domestic ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing. That Uber is giving up on competing with its larger competitor in China only serves to underscore what everybody already knew: that if you’re an American company, and your business model is based on having a monopoly among smartphone users, then you’re not going to make it in China. China is not only quantitatively much bigger and more important than any other market in the world, it’s also qualitatively so.
The end of the story of Uber China, however, is not just about Uber, or China. It also marks […]