Future Tech

Didi blames software for outage that shook Chinese commuters

Tan KW
Publish date: Wed, 29 Nov 2023, 04:55 PM
Tan KW
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Future Tech

Didi Global Inc blamed a “low-level” software glitch for a cascading outage that disrupted its car-hailing service across China this week, a major blow to a company seeking to stage a comeback and relist in Hong Kong.

Didi determined after an initial investigation that a “blockage” in software systems triggered the outage, which spurred complaints across social media from rush-hour commuters who claimed they lost pay after reporting late for work. Millions of Chinese depend on the service to navigate traffic daily, particularly in notoriously snarled cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

The incident is embarrassing for a company seeking to climb out of troughs it plumbed during China’s crackdown on the powerful tech sector. Known as China’s answer to Uber Technologies Inc, the firm this month posted its first profit since 2021, when regulators launched a probe into its data management and eventually forced it to delist from New York’s stock exchange. Didi is now trying to regain market share ahead of a relisting in Hong Kong in 2024.

It’s working to stabilise its service to prevent a recurrence of this week’s outages, the company said in a statement. It again apologised for the disruption, which media including the South China Morning Post reported affected commuters from as far afield as southwestern Guizhou province. Users encountered glitches including stalled turn-by-turn navigation systems and inability to confirm journeys or rides, the SCMP said.

“We’re doing our best to make sure this never happens again,” Didi said on its official Weibo account. The downtime wasn’t the result of a cyberattack, it added.

Once hailed as the homegrown startup that defeated and drove Uber out of China, Didi’s downfall during Beijing’s tech crackdown of 2021 and 2022 encapsulates the uncertainty of private-sector entrepreneurship during Xi Jinping’s administration.

Its comeback and eventual re-listing could offer a signal of Beijing’s support for the tech sector, which is needed more than ever to revive a sputtering Chinese economy. It may restore some confidence after years of regulatory scrutiny humbled corporate leaders from Tencent Holdings Ltd to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, both Didi backers.

 - Bloomberg

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