Grab, Uber’s arch rival in Southeast Asia, raises $750M led by SoftBank

Grab, the largest company rivaling Uber in Southeast Asia, has confirmed that it has raised $750 million in fresh capital. This is the company’s Series F round, and it was led by existing investor SoftBank with participation from undisclosed existing and new backers, Grab said. (One of those is almost certain to be China’s Didi Kuaidi, which was previously reported to have made a commitment to this round.)

Grab operates in six countries in Southeast Asia and its previous raise was $350 million in August 2015. This new financing has been sometime coming, and it was reported that Grab was raising upwards of $600 million in August, with some media suggesting the total could reach $1 billion. That hasn’t happened by Singapore-headquartered Grab did claim that it has over $1 billion on its balance sheet courtesy of this new raise. In previous reporting, we wrote that Grab was aiming to close the round at a $2.3 billion valuation, but we haven’t been able to confirm whether it was successful with that.

Grab said it 400,000 drivers on its platforms and it has seen over 21 million app downloads to date. In an announcement, the company added that it sees “up to 1.5 million daily bookings,” which a Grab spokesperson confirmed means ride requests not completed rides. Uber doesn’t provide business data for Southeast Asia so it is hard to compare them, but we previously reported that Uber is operationally profitable in parts of Southeast Asia and there seems to be little to choose between the two.

An arsenal of capital is clearly necessary when you are taking on Uber, but Grab did sketch out some areas of priority that it will focus on.

Indonesia, the world’s fifth largest market and the largest economy in Southeast Asia, is top of its list. Grab CEO Anthony Tan said in a statement that he believes that Indonesia’s ride-hailing industry is worth $15 billion annually — that goes beyond taxi and cars and into motorbike taxis — which Grab offers there — and services such as food delivery, logistics, and more. Indonesia is no easy market and, alongside Uber, Grab is rivaled by GoJek, a motorbike taxi on-demand service that recently raised $550 million at a valuation of $1.3 billion.

Beyond a push into services, Grab is also looking to expand its ecosystem into payments. This summer it announced plans to make its in-app payment system — GrabPay — available to third-party services, and this new funding will go towards making that happen. The GrabPay push will initially focus on Indonesia, where Grab has partnered with national bank Mandiri, but it will also be extended into the company’s other focus markets, too.

Another more obvious area of focus is technology. Grab has R&D centers in Singapore, Beijing and Seattle and its priorities include refining its algorithm to help drivers become more efficient, building out its mapping data and technology, working on demand prediction and user targeting. There’s no word on autonomous vehicles, which Uber is currently testing in Pittsburgh in the U.S..

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