Jean Liu: Will This Global Company Replace Uber and Lyft?

April 3 - Sarah Ashlock


There’s a hidden gem of a movie starring Winona Ryder that is a must-see. Called Night on Earth, it’s a 90s anthology of five cab drivers in different cities around the world, like Helsinki and New York. As Winona smokes and blows bubblegum in one scene, we see another taxi driver begrudgingly taking drunk dudes home.

Today, set the stopwatch on your phone for 60 seconds. Daydream about what someone else is doing right now in another country, another job, another situation. It’s a lovely reminder that we’re all hustling and surviving and living and loving, no matter what language we speak or which cab we take.


Old-timey taxis are the cutest: You know, the 1950s ones that almost look like bubbly block letters. Now, we’re hopping in anything from a Honda Civic to a Jeep Cherokee, and being driven by Tony or Sabrina or whoever shows up on our phone. Ridesharing apps are the norm, with 53 percent of people in the United States using them. They’re particularly important for those who live in a city without adequate public transportation.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Jean Liu, President at Didi Chuxing

You probably haven’t thought much about ridesharing in other countries unless you’ve visited them. What’s cool about using this kind of transit in a new place is hearing a real local’s insights. She will tell you which tourist traps to avoid, which spot really does have the best dim sum, and how to say, “I need the bathroom” in the native language. Jean Liu is the president of one of the biggest ridesharing platforms in the world, Didi Chuxing.

Haven’t heard of it? Uber and Apple have. They’ve invested in the global mobile transportation company, which Jean has been managing for five years. The company has been responsible for giving 550 million passengers a lift and is valued at a staggering $56 billion.

Jean went to school at Harvard and has helped catapult Didi Chuxing into the tech-savvy company it is today. From Mexico to India to Southeast Asia, the biz employs 7,000 people. The biggest priority that Jean has? Artificial technology and intelligence. Nearly half of those who work for Jean are in tech and work at AI research centers.

In China, Didi Chuxing reigns supreme as the only ridesharing operation, beating out Uber’s territory. One of the coolest aspects of Didi Chuxing is its use of augmented reality: The app helps passengers find their way out of buildings, train stations—you name it—so they can get to their car faster and with more confidence.

Gender diversity is a priority for Jean, which is obvious when you look at Didi Chuxing’s positions. Almost 40 percent of the company’s tech jobs are filled by women, which is a far cry from the average. One of the biggest hurdles women face at work is motherhood, something often regarded as a career demolisher. Jean believes having a family can actually help a woman broaden her thinking and re-motivate her.

Jean says emotional intelligence and empathy are a must in the workplace. These qualities are what have helped Didi Chuxing’s engineers design specific technology for the driver and passenger, and they’re what have helped Jean grow into one of the world’s women to watch.


Here’s a quote by Jean Liu:

"I was fortunate enough to have extremely capable and encouraging female mentors, and it is important for all women to have that kind of support."

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