Google to invest over $44 million in taxi-hailing firm Kakao Mobility

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Tech giant Google will invest more than 50 billion won ($44.15 million) in Kakao Mobility Corp., the top taxi-hailing company in South Korea.

Google will invest in Kakao Mobility by acquiring new shares worth 56.51 billion won, according to a regulatory filing from Kakao.

The deal, which places Kakao Mobility’s total value at 3.35 trillion won, will give Google a 1.69 percent stake in the firm, which operates taxi-hailing service Kakao T and has 28 million users.

Through the investment, the two companies agreed to cooperate in the development of cloud-based artificial intelligence technology and create synergy between Google services and Kakao Mobility’s platform.

The latest announcement comes as Kakao Mobility faces competition from newcomer UT, a joint venture between T Map Mobility Co., a subsidiary of South Korea’s top mobile carrier SK Telecom Co., and U.S. ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc.

UT will release a new service in the middle of the year by combining existing taxi-hailing services from Uber and T Map Mobility, reports Yonhap news agency.

T Map Mobility’s service, T Map Taxi, is the second largest in the country with 200,000 registered drivers and 750,000 monthly active users, according to the company.

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