|My Teksi/GrabTaxi (2012–2016)|
|Privately held company|
|Founded||June 2012 (as GrabTaxi)|
Tan Hooi Ling
|168 cities across eight countries (February 2018)|
|Anthony Tan (CEO & Co-Founder)
Ming Maa (President)
Tan Hooi Ling (Co-Founder)
|Products||Mobile app, website|
|US$ 82.8 million (2016)|
Number of employees
Grab (formerly known as GrabTaxi) is a Singapore-based technology company that offers ride-hailing, ride sharing and logistics services through its app in Singapore and neighbouring Southeast Asian nations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia.
The Grab app assigns taxis nearby commutators through location-sharing system. Every time the company enters a new market, they would buy smartphones for the drivers in countries that they operated in and drivers would pay back through daily installments for the phone. The company makes money by taking a cut of the booking fees. Although some taxi companies tried to stop their own drivers from using the app, Grab decided to reach out directly to taxi drivers by signing them up at airport, hawker centres, taxi queues, and depots. The company also educates taxi drivers on using the smartphone and their mobile app. Apart from large cities, Grab also tried to penetrate the market of smaller cities.
The idea of creating a taxi-booking mobile app first came from Anthony Tan, who is the youngest of the three brothers of the family that operates Tan Chong Motors, the authorised distributor for Nissan cars in Malaysia. When a friend visited him in Malaysia, Anthony heard his friend complaining about the horrible experience of riding taxis in the country. His friend was not sure whether the taxi was taking the right route or the fare has been fair to customers. This caused Anthony to take this problem up as project when he was studying at Harvard Business school. When he presented this project to his professors, the comments he got were that this project was "difficult to implement" and "not proven yet in the real world". However, in 2011, the project won second place at the Business Plan Contest at Harvard Business School. The app was also selected as the finalist at Harvard’s Minimum Viable Product Funding award.
In June 2012, Anthony Tan quit his position as the head-of-marketing of his family business Tan Chong Motors at Kuala Lumpur and launched "My Teksi" app in Malaysia (known as "GrabTaxi" in other countries) together with Tan Hooi Ling, another Harvard graduate. Tan Hooi Ling, Anthony's classmate, who was also a consultant at McKinsey & Company, drew a business plan for promoting the mobile app. MyTeksi was launched with initial grant of US$ 25,000 from Havard Business school and Anthony Tan's personal capital. Anthony Tan became the CEO of the company. He went door-to-door in search for the biggest taxi companies to try his product. The first response he got was "Don’t sell this stupid app. Nobody will use it. Taxi drivers will steal your phone – they’re terrible people" and he was told to go back to his family business. Only the fifth taxi company who operated a fleet of 30 taxis decided to give him a chance. Nadiem Makarim (GO-JEK co-founder and former classmate of Anthony at Harvard Business School) acknowledged GrabTaxi as his inspiration for his motorbike hailing business in Indonesia. However, increasing rivalry between Grab and GO-JEK in Indonesia had soured the friendship between Nadiem and Anthony. Since 2014, Grab moved its company headquarters from Malaysia to Singapore. Moreover, Anthony Tan also acquired Singaporean citizenship, according to the company's filings with the Singapore government in 2017.
GrabTaxi 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. In May 2014, the company launched GrabCar. It serves as an alternative form of transportation that uses private cars instead of taxis through a licensed partner in an effort to overcome the lack 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 2015, GrabBike's motorcycle service rides can be found in Vietnam and Indonesia. GrabBike also provides medical insurance for the passengers and the drivers. In February 2015, the company launched GrabCar+ (a service that provides a fleet of higher-end cars) in the Philippines.
In January 2016, GrabTaxi was rebranded into "Grab" which encompasses other company's products under one roof: GrabCar (private cars), GrabBike (motorcycle taxis), GrabHitch (carpooling) and GrabExpress (last mile delivery) with a new, redesigned logo. In October 2016, Grab added an in-app instant messaging called "GrabChat" to allow simple communication between riders and drivers. It also translates the messages if the languages between rider and driver are different. In December 2016, Grab introduced "GrabShare" that offers taxi and car sharing services.
On 7 February 2017, Grab gets into the coach-style seating for passengers. On 9 March 2017, Grab introduced GrabFamily for young children below 7 years old, where children under 1.35 metres must be placed on a child booster seat or child restraint, therefore child restraint seats are required. Also, children under 1.35 metres are not allowed into the private hire car, and can only go to either GrabFamily or a taxi. The LTA ruled that private hire cars under Uber or Grab, are not exempted from child seat requirement.  On 22 March 2017, Grab has launched the simplified flat-fare structure, JustGrab. Many people were even penalised for the multiple stops, by charging $5 extra for addition of stop, that is made outside the booking. With effect from 3 July 2017, the new multiple stop rule has been implemented.
In March 2017, LTA introduced a new regulation of private hire cars called Private Hire Car Vocational Licence (PDVL), with effect from July 2017, and tagged to the route number. This is to ensure that there are better services, and does not go through wrong ways. From April 2018, ride sharing Grab will introduce the new car service, GrabCar Plus, but riders have to pay 20% as a premium more. The existing GrabCar (Economy), will be removed eventually.
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. As of June 2017, the number of drivers registered in the network was over 1 million and the Grab app was downloaded onto more than 45 million mobile devices across Southeast Asia. In November 2017, Grab reached one billionth ride with 66 concurrent rides in one second across seven countries, occupying 97% market share in third-party taxi hailing market and 72% in private vehicle hailing market. The company also claimed to have two million driving partners, 68 million mobile app downloads, and 3.5 million daily rides.
In April 2014, the company secured more than US$10 million in series A funding from Vertex Venture Holdings (subsidiary of Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings). The company proceeded to raise another US$15 million in series B funding in May 2014, led by Chinese venture capital firm GGV Capital, with participation from Qunar and Vertex Venture Holdings. In October 2014, the company raised US$65 million in series C funding from US-based hedge fund Tiger Global, GGV Capital, and Venture Vertex Holdings. In December 2014, it managed to raise US$250 million in series D funding, fully invested in by SoftBank Corp (now SoftBank Group) which Grab claimed to be the largest investment made into a South East Asian internet company on public record. In August 2015, Grab raised US$350 million in series E funding round from a range of investors including Didi Kuadi (now Didi Chuxing) and China Investment Corporation (CIC). In September 2016, Grab raised another US$750 million in series F funding from Softbank, Didi, and Honda. In August 2017, Grab raised US$2.5 billion in series G funding from Softbank, Didi, and Toyota. As of March 2018, Grab was valued at US$ 6 billion. In 2014, Anthony Tan stated that the company may consider to have an Initial Public Offering (IPO) when the number of bookings through the app reaches 2 million a day.
GrabTaxi opened a US$100 million 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 joined 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 development center and office 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.
In the Philippines, GrabCar was fully legalized after been accredited as a Transportation Network Company (TNC) by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in 2015. The following year, Malaysia approved plans to legitimise Grab and Uber services, as well as to transform their taxi industry. On 4 April 2017, the Malaysian government tabled amendments to existing transport laws that would regulate transport application services and protect drivers from harassment. Through the amendment, Grab and Uber vehicles will be classified as public service vehicles as part of the move to legalise both services in its efforts to transform the country’s public transport services. The amendments were passed by the Parliament of Malaysia on 28 July 2017, which directly legalise both services to operating legally in the country. In Singapore, similar laws to legalise the service were passed in February 2017. Since its foundation, 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.
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 (DOTr) 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.
In May 2016, the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam (DRVN) has suggested that both Grab and Uber taxis should have signs on their cars to differentiate them from conventional taxis, a suggestion that sparked a wave of protest from many local taxi companies. Most taxi operators claimed the change would amount to legal recognition of the services as local taxis face many constraints from the government such as limitations on the number of vehicles, bans on using several streets, paying more tax and higher operation costs while both Grab and Uber are seems excludes from such requirements. In respond, the Vietnamese Ministry of Transport set to review the legal status of both Grab and Uber to ensure a fair business environment for firms. A draft of a new circular was submitted in early 2018 that includes regulations for passenger transport (by car) through software which directly focusing on those applications.
In Thailand, the motorbike taxi services of Grab and Uber was suspended on claims the services are breaking local rules and clashing with registered transport companies. Further crackdown on the services was continued in early 2017 with a Thai transport official asks the government to ban them although little efforts being done as both services have gain popularity among Thais and foreign visitors in the country.
In February 2017, Land Transport Authority (LTA) in Singapore ruled that private hire cars who used Uber or Grab service are not exempted from child seat requirement. For safety reasons, all vehicles in Singapore must have booster seats or child restraints for passengers under 1.35m in height.
Since 1 July 2017, the LTA has required GrabCar, JustGrab and GrabHitch to have Private Hire Vehicle's Vocational Licence (PDVL). This follows after LTA introduced a new regulation for private hire cars called Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence (PDVL) which took effect in July 2017. This is to ensure that commuter's interest is better protected in particular safety.
Many abuses towards passenger as well the driver have been reported throughout the services. On 23 September 2016, a female passenger in Singapore was sexually assaulted by an elderly GrabCar driver after she fall asleep during the ride. The driver was jailed for 16 months the following year. On 25 March 2017, a female passenger in Singapore was assaulted by a Grab driver. The driver was subsequently suspended from his service although still allowed to pick up passengers on the streets. In May, a GrabCar driver in Chiang Mai, Thailand was arrested for sexual assault. On 13 June, a female passenger in Seri Kembangan, Malaysia was reportedly raped by a Grab driver. The driver was then arrested and while pending completion of police investigations, he was removed with immediate effect from the service with Grab describing the incident as "deeply distressing and stressed that the company have a zero tolerance policy to any crime and serious misconduct by drivers" with a full assistance will be given to the victim. Another incident occurred on 12 August involving a female student passenger in Puchong, Malaysia who was assaulted by a Grab driver after a misunderstanding occurred between the two during the drive which enraged the driver and broke the female passenger nose. The driver was subsequently arrested by police two days later. In response, Grab issued a statement and said it "would not tolerate physical violence or verbal abuse".
In September 2017, a female teenager in Matraman, Indonesia was sexually assaulted by a Grab motorcycle taxi driver who instead drove her to his friend's house than to her internship office in Central Jakarta as booked. Following his arrest, the driver was indefinitely terminated from his services and Grab issued an apology with a full assistance are also given to the victim and her family. In another case in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia on 1 December, a Grab driver was dropping a passenger off when he was punched in the face by a former Malaysian sportswoman who has anger issues. It was allegedly the driver who dropped off both the woman and her mother at the wrong house although the correct house is few houses away. The former sportswoman allegedly punched the driver when the driver was trying to take a picture as evidence of wrongful treatment by both the former Malaysian sportswoman and her mother for their treatment towards him. There was supposed to be a press conference held to allow both driver and the assailant to make amends in the next four days but the assailant did not attend the press conference as promised. There was uproar in support for the assaulted Grab driver in social media. In the end, the assailant was banned forever from the Grab platform as a result.
Frequent disputes have occurred between Grab drivers and local taxis operators as many taxi drivers have complained a decline of their passenger numbers and income since Grab and its competitor of Uber began to gaining foothold in their areas. Until December 2016, around 65 assault cases towards GrabBike drivers by local taxibike drivers have been reported in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Many violence have erupted between Grab drivers and motorbike taxis in two major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam with another 47 assaults cases recorded in 2017. GrabCar drivers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia also facing an increase of harassment from local taxi drivers to the point that even innocent people are targeted.
On 4 March 2017, a drunk foreign man reportedly attacked a GrabCar driver in Singapore. The man was then arrested and jailed two weeks for his offence. On 26 October, a Grab driver was killed in Pasay City, Philippines by a suspect disguised as a legitimate passenger, who subsequently fled with the victim's vehicle and personal belongings. The suspect finally surrendered to police two weeks later and confessed that he accidentally killed the latter after the victim refused to give his money.
But long before it became a hot name, Grab founder Anthony Tan took the decision to move the company from his native Malaysia south to Singapore. The move came after it secured $10 million of series A funding from Vertex Venture Holdings, Singapore's biggest venture capital firm and a unit of Temasek, the Singapore government investment fund.
What's more, Tan has taken Singaporean citizenship, ... Its holding company lost $82.8 million in 2016...
Nadiem didn’t unpack his current relationship with Anthony, or comment any further on the Go-Jek and GrabBike rivalry, but he does credit GrabTaxi as one of the catalysts for Go-Jek’s success four years later.
Competition has taken its toll on the relationship. The former classmates aren’t talking anymore, Makarim said.
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