China’s sovereign wealth fund backs GrabTaxi in US$350mil round
By Digital News Asia August 20, 2015
- Brings total funding to about US$700mil, valued at about US$1.6bil
- Funds to be used on offerings beyond taxis, and on tech development
SINGAPORE-headquartered GrabTaxi Holdings Pte Ltd announced its largest ever funding – over US$350 million, from US technology investment firm Coatue Management LLC, China’s sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation (CIC), and Didi Kuaidi, a rival service also funded by CIC.
This brings GrabTaxi’s total funding to approximately US$700 million and makes it “one of the best funded startups in the history of South-East Asia,” the company said in a statement.
The taxi-hailing app startup, founded in Malaysia and boosted by grants from the Malaysian Government in its early days, has since relocated to Singapore and even announced a US$100-million investment in a research and development (R&D) centre in the island-republic.
The new funds would be used to rapidly grow its offerings beyond its traditional taxi product lines, the company said in a statement.
It has already diversified into private cars and motorbikes: GrabCar is an Uber-like private hire vehicle service available in all countries where GrabTaxi is available; while GrabBike is a motorbike-taxi booking service currently available in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, markets where motorcycle taxis are a very popular form of commuter transportation.
Both GrabCar and GrabBike are available through the same GrabTaxi mobile app, the company added.
“Diversifying into private cars and motorbikes has allowed us to touch people of varying income levels and commuting needs,” said group chief executive officer and cofounder Anthony Tan.
“We are the only app in the region that has such an extensive network and range of transportation choices,” he added.
The new funds will also be used to further develop its technology offering as it continues to invest in expanding its engineering offices that now span Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Beijing.
It recently lost its highly-heralded chief technology officer Wei Zhu, a former Facebook engineer who left after just about a year at the company to explore his own personal pursuits.
Putting SEA on the map
The investment announcement was expected after the Wall Street Journal broke the news on Aug 16, however reporting that it would be a US$400-million round that would value GrabTaxi at between US$1.6 billion and US$1.8 billion, post-funding.
In its official statement, GrabTaxi said that South-East Asia has continued “to increase in prominence in the global startup ecosystem as more investors seek exposure to the fast growing mobile-first region.”
“This investment is not only a statement on GrabTaxi’s dominance in the region, but also the growth potential of South-East Asia on a global level,” said Tan.
On Didi Kuaidi’s investment, he said, “Didi is the leading player in China with a strong multi-product experience. We look forward to working with our peer in China, leveraging off each other’s experience to continually deliver the best service possible.”
GrabTaxi said it now has a presence in 26 cities across six countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam). It claims it has over 110,000 drivers under its banner across the region.
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