Ola Cabs

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Ola Cabs
Founded3 December 2010; 10 years ago (2010-12-03)
FoundersBhavish Aggarwal
Ankit Bhati
Area served
New Zealand,
(250+ cities)
Key people
Bhavish Aggarwal (CEO)
Ankit Bhati (CTO)
ProductsMobile app, website
Revenue2,544 crore (US$360 million)[2] (FY 2019)
Number of employees
~3,000 (2020)
WebsiteOla Cabs

Ola Cabs (stylised as OLΛ) is an Indian ridesharing company offering services that include vehicle for hire and food delivery. The company is based in Bangalore, Karnataka, India and was developed by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd. As of October 2019, Ola was valued at about $6.5 billion[3] A variety of venture capitalists including Softbank have large stakes in the company.[4]

Ola Cabs was founded on 3 December 2010 as an online cab aggregator in Mumbai, and is now based in Bangalore. As of 2019, the company has expanded to a network of more than 15 lakh (1.5 million) drivers across 250 cities.[5] In November 2014, Ola diversified to incorporate auto rickshaws on a trial basis in Bangalore.[6] After the trial phase, Ola Auto expanded to other cities like Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad starting in December 2014.

In January 2018, Ola extended into its first overseas market, Australia, and in New Zealand in September 2018.[7] In March 2019, Ola began its UK operations introducing auto rickshaws in UK. More than 10,000 drivers have applied both in online and offline mode ahead of its launch in London. In February 2020, Ola launched its taxi-hailing services with over 25,000 drivers registered.[8]


In March 2015, Ola Cabs acquired Bangalore-based taxi service TaxiForSure for approximately ₹1,394 crore (US$200 million).[9] June 2015 onwards, Ola users gained access to TFS cabs via the Ola mobile application.[10] Later in the year in November, Ola further acquired Geotagg, a trip-planning applications company, for an undisclosed sum.[11]

In a move to expand beyond cab aggregation, Ola acquired struggling foodtech company Foodpanda with an eye on leveraging the growing food delivery segment business in December 2017.[12] In April 2018, Ola made its second acquisition with Ridlr (formerly Traffline), a public transport ticketing app.[13] Later in August 2018, Ola financed Series A funding of the scooter rent startup Vogo, and again in December, invested another $100 million.[14]

In March 2019, the Karnataka state transport department suspended Ola's operating license for six months for violation of license conditions and violation of Karnataka On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregator Rules, 2016. This was on account of Ola running bike taxi services though it only had license for four wheeler taxi operations. The company termed the order unfortunate and was looking at working with driving partners to continue functioning. They also claimed to be in touch with authorities to sort things out.[15]


Ola offers different levels of service, ranging from economic to luxury travel.[16] The cabs are reserved through a mobile app and also through their website and the service accepts both cash and cashless payments with Ola money.[17] It claims to clock an average of more than 1,50,000 bookings per day and commands 60% of the market share in India as of 2014.[18]

Ola Electric Mobility[edit]

Ola spun off its electric vehicles business into a separate unit called Ola Electric Mobility with US$56 million of funding capital in February 2019. The funding was provided by Tiger Global and Matrix India.[19] Apart from electric vehicles, Ola Electric also works on charging solutions, EV batteries and developing viable infrastructure to allow commercial EVs to operate at scale.[20] The company announced on 6 May 2019 that Ratan Tata had invested an undisclosed amount in Ola Electric as part of its Series A round of funding.[21][22]

Ola Electric raised $250 million from SoftBank during Series B round funding in July 2019, earning a valuation of over $1 billion.[23]

Anand Shah, co-founder, Ola Electric and senior VP, Ola Cabs said that Ola Electric will need more capital to achieve its target of putting 10 lakh (1 million) EVs on the roads by 2021.[24]

Ola Electric acquired Amsterdam-based EV startup Etergo on 27 May 2020[25] to launch own line of electric scooters in 2020.



Ola Cabs' technology came under criticism regarding the security of its mobile app. The API calls could be replayed to top up its wallet.[26]

In August 2016, a privacy breach occurred when customers' details such as names, phone numbers and addresses, in Bangalore, were received as SMS messages by an individual in Chennai. Although these unanticipated messages were reported to Ola, the company ignored them, even under the threat of being reported to the TRAI.[27] The issue was reportedly fixed three weeks later after receiving considerable media coverage and social media attention.[28]

0n January 19, 2020, a technical glitch caused multiple users to receive notifications such as "Your ride is on the way" or "Your ride is here" despite them not even attempting to book through the platform. In some cases, cancelling the ride even attempted to automatically book another ride.[29]

Overcharging and lack of transparency in charging[edit]

The refund policy of Ola Cabs has been criticised because of charging errors caused by technical glitches in their system.[30] Surge pricing has been an issue with customers, as Ola is said to initially eliminate competition by lowering prices, and then hiking up prices through what it calls surge pricing. The fact that the same ride can cost different amounts depending on the time, day and the profiles, history and rating of the driver as well as passenger has also incurred much customer wrath.[31]

Driver concerns[edit]

Ola from January 2017 has been highly criticised for continuously dropping the driver incentives which in turn is affecting driver-partner's monthly income. Most nowadays fail to cope with their monthly EMIs and other dues. Daily income of cab drivers is now equal to auto drivers running in the city after deducting all dues.[32]

Charges comprise:

  • Base fare (fixed amount)
  • Distance fare (charged per kilometre)
  • Ride time fare (charged per time taken to travel)
  • Peak pricing (direct ratio depending on demand for cabs)[33]
  • GST (5%)
  • Toll charges (toll collection if crossing a toll junction)

Ola and Uber have also been criticised due to their practice of baiting drivers and passengers, initially with discounts and bonuses, and then hiking up fares without passing the proceeds to drivers. Their practice of taking large signing up amounts from drivers and not considering them employees has also been criticised. Both companies contractually treat drivers as "contractors" thus excusing themselves from any legal obligations.[31] In an interview, Pranay Jivrajka, a co-founder of OLA, claimed that the company will be creating 50 lakh new "opportunities" in the next five years. He was, however, careful not use the word jobs for these opportunities. He added that it was not just about jobs but creating an ecosystem.[34]

Assaults on and Murders of Ola cab drivers[edit]

There have been 11 cases of murders, and over 90 cases of kidnapping and robbery of drivers working for app-based cab aggregators including Ola, by criminals posing as passengers using fake profiles.[35] The most recent case happened in the city of Pune in June 2019 when a passenger killed the driver to steal his car.[36] Two other murders of Ola drivers by robbers took place in New Delhi and Agra respectively.[37]

Congestion externalities[edit]

A recent study has shown that Ola may be contributing significantly to congestion in three major Indian cities - Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi.[38] The adverse congestion effects were found to be the highest in the busiest areas of each city during peak hours. The study also reported that many who use these services would have otherwise used more efficient forms of public transport, such as the Delhi Metro.

Driver credibility[edit]

Panic button for passengers in an Ola car in Kolkata

Delhi Transport authority in early 2015 questioned the credibility and required verification of drivers working for Ola, along with other competitors such as Uber. The inquiry revealed that approximately 80% of drivers amongst all services did not possess permits to ply commercial transport services in Delhi.[39] Drivers also protested[40] outside the Kukatapally, Hyderabad office of Ola, demanding more transparency over payments.


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  2. ^ "Ola revenues rise by 38% as losses take a 9% drop during FY19". entrackr.com. 1 December 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  3. ^ Dalal, Mihir (9 June 2020). "How Ola is hunkering down to ride out the storm". livemint.com. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
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  6. ^ "Now Book Auto Rickshaws in Bangalore via Ola Cabs". NDTV Gadgets. 20 November 2014.
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  12. ^ Russell, Jon (18 December 2017). "Uber rival Ola buys Foodpanda India to get into food deliveries". TechCrunch. Oath Inc. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  13. ^ Chaudhary, Suman (3 April 2018). "Ola Acquires Mumbai-based Public Transport Ticketing App Ridlr". IndianWeb2.com. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
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  16. ^ "Ola aims to counter Uber with its Biz-class service". The Economic Times. 2 September 2014.
  17. ^ "Pay gas and electricity bills with Ola Money". FactorDaily. 28 November 2016. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  18. ^ Abudheen, Sainul K (19 November 2014). "Ola now has $250-300M annual gross transaction run rate; peek at its numbers - VCCircle". VCCircle.com.
  19. ^ "Ola spins out EV unit, raises £43m funding | Mobile Marketing Magazine". mobilemarketingmagazine.com. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  20. ^ "India's Ola spins out a dedicated EV business — and it just raised $56M from investors". TechCrunch. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  21. ^ "Ratan Tata Invests in Ola Electric Mobility". NDTV. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  22. ^ Bansal, Varsha (6 May 2019). "Ratan Tata raises stake in Ola, invests in fledgling electric vehicle business". Mint. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  23. ^ Bansal, Varsha (2 July 2019). "Ola Electric races to unicorn status with $250-million fundraise from SoftBank". Mint. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  24. ^ Panday, Amit (3 July 2019). "We are working on how to make EVs ultra-affordable: Ola Electric's Anand Shah". Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  25. ^ "Ola Electric to launch its electric two-wheeler for global markets; acquires Amsterdam-based Etergo". 27 May 2020.
  26. ^ Aggarwal, Varun; Murali, Malavika (20 March 2015). "Taxi aggregator Ola hit by tech glitches that allow free rides". The Economic Times.
  27. ^ Anand, Kunal (30 August 2015). "Ola Cabs Accidentally Reveals Customer Data To Chennai Girl, And Doesn't Care". Indiatimes.com.
  28. ^ "Ola leaked its customers data, claims user; company blames manual error". The Indian Express. 1 September 2015.
  29. ^ Sil, Debarghya (20 January 2021). "Technical Glitch: Ola App Sends False Booking Notifications To Users". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  30. ^ "Decoding OLA Cabs Billing Issues – Ola ka Gola!". Trak.in. 13 May 2015.
  31. ^ a b "Ola, Uber and the Precarious Future of Blue Collar Platform Workers". The Wire. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  32. ^ "Ola, Uber cut driver pay by a third in 1 year". economictimes.com. 18 September 2017.
  33. ^ "4: Peak Pricing [Direct Ratio depending on demand for cabs]".
  34. ^ Ravi Agrawal (1 October 2018). India Connected: How the Smartphone is Transforming the World's Largest Democracy. Oxford University Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-19-085867-4.
  35. ^ https://dbpost.com/not-only-passengers-even-cabbies-are-at-risk-of-getting-killed/
  36. ^ "Pune: Two men book Ola cab to murder driver, steal car" (June 24, 2019). The Indian Express. Express News Service. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  37. ^ HT Correspondent. "Delhi Police arrest two men for Ola cabbie's murder". Hindustan Times (August 29, 2018). Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  38. ^ Agarwal, Saharsh; Mani, Deepa; Telang, Rahul (2020). "The Impact of Ride-hailing Services on Congestion: Evidence from Indian Cities". SSRN.
  39. ^ "80% of Uber, Ola does not have permits to ply in Delhi, says minister". The Indian Express. 19 June 2015.
  40. ^ Reddy (30 December 2016). "Cab Drivers Attack Ola Office in Kukatpally". Newshub. Retrieved 6 May 2018.

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