|My Teksi/GrabTaxi (2012–2016)|
|Privately held company|
|Founded||June 2012 (as GrabTaxi)|
Tan Hooi Ling
Malaysia (2012–2014) |
|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
GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. (branded as simply Grab) is a Singapore-based technology company that offers the only ride-hailing, ride sharing, and logistics services through its app in Singapore and neighbouring Southeast Asian nations Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. While it originally competed with Uber, Grab's acquisition of Uber's Southeast Asian operations in March 2018 has turned it into the only ride share service in the region.
The Grab app assigns taxis to nearby commutators through a location-sharing system. Each time the company enters a new market, they buy smartphones for drivers in countries that they expand to, allowing those drivers to pay daily instalments for the phone. The company makes money by taking a cut of the booking fees. Although some taxi companies have tried to stop their own drivers from using the app, Grab reached 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. In addition to large cities, Grab has also tried to penetrate the markets 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. In particular, his friend was concerned if his taxi's were taking the correct route or overcharging him. Anthony decided to take this problem up as a project while studying at Harvard Business school. When he presented the project to his professors, the comments he received were that this project was "difficult to implement" and "not proven yet in the real world". Nevertheless, 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 the "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 Harvard 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, but was initially met with negative responses. Not only was he told to not "...sell this stupid app. Nobody will use it. Taxi drivers will steal your phone – they’re terrible people," he was even told to go back to his family business. Only the fifth taxi company he spoke to, who operated a fleet of only 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. In 2014, Grab moved its company headquarters from Malaysia to Singapore. According to the company's filings with the Singapore government in 2017, Anthony Tan also acquired Singaporean citizenship.
GrabTaxi expanded to the Philippines in August 2013, and to Singapore and Thailand in October of the same year. In 2014, Grab in partnership with HDT Holdings, introduces 100 BYD e6 electric taxis in Singapore to form the biggest e-taxi fleet in Southeast Asia.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 personal 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. By 2015, GrabBike's motorcycle service rides had spread throughout Vietnam and Indonesia. GrabBike also provides medical insurance for their passengers and 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 as"Grab" which encompasses all the company's products under one roof: GrabCar (personal 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 feature called "GrabChat" to allow simple communication between riders and drivers. GrabChat can even translate messages if the set languages of the driver and passenger are different. In December 2016, Grab introduced "GrabShare" which offers taxi and car sharing services.
On 7 February 2017, Grab got into coach-style seating for passengers. And on 9 March 2017, Grab introduced GrabFamily for young children below 7 years old, to fulfill regulations where children under 1.35 metres must be placed on a child booster seat or child restraint. The LTA ruled that private hire cars under Uber or Grab, are not exempted from child seat requirement.  GrabFamily vehicles offer child restraint seats. Additionally, children under 1.35 metres are not allowed into private hire cars, and thus can only use either GrabFamily or a taxi. 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 the quality of private hire car services, and to prevent route fraud. In April 2018, Grab introduced the new car service, GrabCar Plus, which offers a larger vehicle in exchange for a 20% premium fee. The existing GrabCar (Economy), will be slowly phased out.
In March 2018, Grab merged with Uber's SouthEast Asian operations, effectively turning Grab into the only rideshare service in the region.
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, representing 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 billion rides with 66 concurrent rides in one second across seven countries, occupying 97% market share in the third-party taxi hailing market and 72% in the 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 (a 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, Grab managed to raise US$250 million in series D funding, invested in full by SoftBank Corp (now SoftBank Group), which Grab claimed to be the largest investment made into a Southeast 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 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. Recent hires includes Chief Technology Officer Wei Zhu, ex-Facebook Engineer and creator of Facebook Connect who left the company in Aug 2015. This emphasis on software engineers and data scientist recruitment for the new facility suggests the company’s strategy lies in development of new tools, as well as possible expansion of app and service features and staff management. In 2016, the company will open a new development centre 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 legalised 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 that legitimised 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 were 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 legalised both services to operate in the country. In Singapore, similar laws that legalised 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) 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 were excluded from such requirements. In response, 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 in 2016, the motorbike taxi services of Grab and Uber were 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.
On 23 September 2016, a female passenger in Singapore was sexually assaulted by an elderly GrabCar driver after she fell 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.
Disputes have occurred between Grab drivers and local taxis operators as taxi drivers complained about a decline of their passenger numbers and income since Grab (and its competitor of Uber) began to gain 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. Grab drivers and passengers in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia have also been the subject of harassment from local taxi drivers.
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. On 24 June 2018, a 27-year-old Grab driver was found dead in his vehicle at Selayang, Malaysia. The victim was said to have last ferried passengers from Jalan Tan Cheng Lock, Kuala Lumpur.
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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