GrabTaxi raises Series A for undisclosed amount

  • Round led by existing investor Singapore’s Vertex Venture Holdings
  • Intends to deepen rollout in South-East Asia first before going global

GrabTaxi founder Anthony Tan posing with a GrabCar banner, a new service GrabTaxi launched in 2013.

TAXI booking app GrabTaxi (known as MyTeksi in Malaysia), has sucessfuly closed its Series A funding round with with existing investor Vertex Venture Holdings, as the lead investor. CIMB, a leading South-East Asian bank headquartered in Malaysia, has been appointed the main financier by GrabTaxi.

A previous media report on April 4 in a Malaysian English-language daily put the investment at US$10 million (RM32.6 million), a figure that GrabTaxi executives insist is not accurate.

However when asked what the accurate figure is, the company declined to disclose the amount citing “strategic reasons.”

Chua Kee Lock, group president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Vertex Venture Holdings said GrabTaxi is a startup that has shown tremendous potential and the venture captial (VC) firm is confident that it will continue to dominate the taxi booking industry in the region.

“We invest in potential champions which have developed new technology platforms or business models that disrupt the incumbents and old inefficient ways of doing things. 

“We clearly see GrabTaxi as one such champion in the making and will continue to provide strong support both financially and in strategic value-add to strengthen GrabTaxi leadership position in this region,” he added.

Established in 1998, Vertex Venture is the longest operating VC firm in Asia. It is a wholly-owned venture capital subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, the investment arm of the Singapore government.

In response to a question from Digital News Asia (DNA) on its plans beyond Southeast Asia, a Vertex’s Chua said: “Southeast Asia is our main focus today. Over time, we intend to make our solution available in other parts of the world either directly or through partnerships.” (See next page for full Q&A)

GrabTaxi was developed in 2011 by GrabTaxi founder and CEO Anthony Tan and another Malaysian who was working for McKinsey & Co. The idea was the result of taking part in a business plan competition that was part of a Harvard Business School program they attended.
“From our humble beginnings, GrabTaxi has become the largest and most widely used taxi booking mobile app in the region. In fact, we have fifteen times more booking volume than our nearest competitors. Our own regional survey showed that we’re at the top of our consumer’s minds. More than 50% of them aren’t aware of any other service available except for GrabTaxi,” claimed Tan.

“The additional investment will allow us to tap into new markets and cement our leadership position as the best and biggest taxi booking mobile app in the region. Our teams are growing and passionate about providing the best service to taxi drivers and commuters,” he added.

Lee Kok Kwan, CEO of Corporate Banking, Treasury and Markets at CIMB Group said the company’s journey from a home-grown startup, to a dominant South-East Asia player in the taxi booking industry in just two short years, is a clear testament of GrabTaxi’s foresight and resolute tenacity.

“Similar to how CIMB had grown to become the leading bank in Southeast Asia from our humble beginnings as a small Malaysia investment bank, we are glad to be able to support startups like GrabTaxi in achieving their greater aspirations,” he added.

GrabTaxi claims to be the clear industry leader in the five countries that it currently operates in – Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Philippines. According to the company, more than 250,000 people in the region use GrabTaxi at least once a month with the app already being downloaded onto more than one million mobile devices to date.

The company claims that there is a taxi booking through GrabTaxi every two seconds across the region. In addition, drivers under the network are said to have experienced a 30% to 300% increase in revenue.

Next page: A Q&A with Vertex Venture Holdings CEO, Chua Kee Lock

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