GrabTaxi, the taxi-hailing app that rivals Uber in Southeast Asia, has just raised its largest-ever funding of over US$350 million, from US investment firm Coatue Management, China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation and China’s top Uber rival, Didi Kuaidi. This brings GrabTaxi’s total funding to approximately US$700 million and makes it one of the best-funded startups in the history of Southeast Asia.
Considering I live in Singapore, when I think about it, I do have a tendency to open up my GrabTaxi app versus the Uber app, when I need a ride. I always get the perception that it’s cheaper. Surprisingly as I was chatting about this with my Singaporean colleague, Anthony Ngo, he too prefers GrabTaxi more due to his loyalty towards a South-East Asian brand, and also because GrabTaxi seems cheaper than Uber. Well, this seems to be a perception amongst a lot of us, and hence its no surprise that Uber is more known to attract a more premium and international expatriate crowd, whereas GrabTaxi, and even GrabCar, are more for the convenience of the everyday locals.
Having said that, with the recent US$50 Billion valuations and access to a lot of resources fuelling their innovation and scalability, Uber still remains a global leader. According to Synthesio’s social media listening dashboard, Uber not surprisingly generates a great volume of online buzz, representing 96.8% of the share of voice.
Now, a fair argument would be that Uber has a presence in more markets in Asia, while for GrabTaxi the active markets would include Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. However, with the recent surge of funding received, this fact might soon be fast changing.
According to Cheryl Goh, Group Vice President of Marketing at GrabTaxi, the company has around 110,000 vehicles around Southeast Asia in 26 cities over six countries. With over 6.1 million downloads of the GrabTaxi app and around 11 bookings per second, it has become one of the fastest growing apps in the region. Uber, its chief rival, is present in each of those markets, but GrabTaxi claims that it is leading in each city. GrabTaxi said it will use the money to continue to diversify its services (it is testing a courier service in Thailand), invest in engineering, and recruit good talent.
In my opinion, along with the above, GrabTaxi should also look at leveraging the current positive Net-Sentiment (Source: Synthesio) and build customer loyalty, amongst an increasingly cluttered market.