Grab's new logo
|Founded||Malaysia (2011 )|
|Founders||Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling|
Number of locations
|Six countries (as of April 2015)|
Grab (formerly known as GrabTaxi) is a mobile e-hailing application. It is an automated smartphone based booking and dispatch platform for the taxi industry in Southeast Asia, available in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. As of March 2015, the number of taxi drivers registered in the network has increased to 75,000, with a total of 3.8 million mobile application users across Southeast Asia.
Originally established in 2012 as MyTeksi in Malaysia, GrabTaxi is a Southeast Asia focused taxi-booking app founded by Harvard Business School graduates Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling. The idea for GrabTaxi first started when Anthony Tan was a student at Harvard Business School and a classmate pulled him aside to gripe about how hard it was to hail a cab in Malaysia. Tan drew up a business plan for an Uber-like service that won backing from angel investors, leading the youngest of three brothers to quit the family business in 2012 to start GrabTaxi, a mobile application that assigns available cabs nearby to commuters using mapping and location-sharing technology. Tan pitched the idea to the panel of the 2011 Harvard Business Plan Competition, that led to them being placed second, making them the first all-Asian team to have succeeded in many years.
GrabTaxi, or MyTeksi as its known in Malaysia, was officially launched to the public in June 2012. The company expanded to the Philippines in August 2013, and to Singapore and Thailand in October of the same year.
In 2014, GrabTaxi further continued its growth and expansion to new countries: first launching in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam in February, and Jakarta in Indonesia in June. That same year, GrabTaxi later expanded to two more cities in the Philippines: Cebu in July, and Davao in October. A beta version of the app was launched in Pattaya, Thailand in September 2014.
In May 2014, the company launched GrabCar in Malaysia and Singapore. GrabCar serves as an alternative form of transportation service that uses cars through a licensed partner in an effort to overcome the lack of supply of public transportation during peak hours. In November 2014, GrabTaxi launched its first GrabBike service in Ho Chi Minh City as a trial service.
In February 2015, the company launched GrabCar+ (a service that provides a fleet of higher-end cars) in the Philippines. In March 2015, the company expanded to Iloilo, making it its 4th city in the Philippines.
The initial period was tough with many sceptics. Tan started by going door-to-door to ask the biggest taxi fleet companies to try his product. Only the fifth taxi company he approached, operating a small fleet of 30, gave him a chance. The company progressed and raised US$90 million in 12 months from hedge fund Tiger Global, prominent Chinese venture capital firm GGV Capital, Vertex Venture Holdings (subsidiary of Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings), and more. In May 2014, GrabTaxi said it had 1.2 million downloads. At around June 2013, it claimed to be doing one booking every eight seconds, or 10,000 a day, a sixteen-fold growth within a year.
By December 2014, it managed to raise US$250 million series D round, fully invested in by SoftBank Corp which is the largest investment ever made in a Southeast Asian internet company on public record thus far. The total investment received by the company over the last 14 months amounted to US$340 million.
On the back of the company’s rapid growth, GrabTaxi opened a US$100million Research & Development facility in the Central Business District of Singapore. The new facility houses 200 engineers and data scientists over the next few years. Recently joining their team includes Chief Technology Officer Wei Zhu, ex-Facebook Engineer and creator of Facebook Connect who left the company in Aug 2015. The emphasis on software engineers and data scientists recruitment for the new facility suggests the company’s strategy in development of new tools, possible expansion of app and service features as well as staff management. In 2016, the company will open a new engineering office center in Seattle that will serve as a tech hub to attract talent in the United States. The company states that it has no plans to launch in North America.
GrabTaxi operates in 30 cities across 6 countries in the South-east Asia region.
The existence of GrabTaxi in the six countries in which it operates in has created a major shakedown in Southeast Asia’s taxi industry, providing an appealing transportation service to tech savvy populations. In Singapore, GrabTaxi received majority votes in an online poll conducted by Singapore’s Straits Times as the taxi app of choice.
Recent regulatory issues have arisen for third-party booking apps like GrabTaxi, but there seems to have been few issues surrounding the company in the 6 markets that they are in. The tech company has also received the support of the Malaysian Public Land Transport Commission (SPAD) when the government department introduced the use of technology using the GrabTaxi applications to enhance efficiency of taxi drivers in Malaysia. The company is working with the government department to improve the image of taxi drivers in the city.
As derivative of GrabTaxi, nowadays GrabBike's motorcycle service rides can be found in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam, Bangkok, Thailand and Jakarta, Indonesia. These cities have heavy traffic jams, so using a motorcycle can be faster than using other transportation mode. GrabBike also provides medical insurance for the passengers and the drivers.
In the Philippines, GrabBike temporarily stops operations following LTFRB order. LTFRB and GrabBike Inc. met to discuss the transport agency's warning for the motorcycle taxi service to stop its operations as it is not included in Grab's, or any other transportation Network Company's (TNC), accreditation to offer bikes as a public mode of transportation that can be booked through a digital platform. The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has yet to create guidelines regarding the use of bikes and motorcycles as a public mode of transportation, until then, GrabBike will not be able to operate. TNC's non-compliance with the directive "shall be dealt with severely," said LTFRB.
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