Grab (company)

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Grab Holdings Inc.
FormerlyMyTeksi (2011-2013)
GrabTaxi (2013-2016)
FoundedJune 2012; 9 years ago (2012-06) (as MyTeksi) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia[3]
Area served
8 countries, 351 cities and metropolitan areas.[5]
Key people
  • Anthony Tan (Co-founder & CEO)
  • Ming Maa (President)
  • Tan Hooi Ling (Co-founder & COO)
  • John Chua (Head Of Financing)
ProductsMobile app
ServicesVehicle for hire
Decrease US$-82.8 million (2016)[6]
Number of employees
6,000 (2019)[7][8]

Grab Holdings Inc., commonly known as Grab, is a Singaporean multinational company headquartered in Singapore.[9][10] In addition to transportation, the company offers food delivery and digital payments services via a mobile app. Starting in 2012 as the MyTeksi app based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it expanded the next year as GrabTaxi. It has since expanded into other services, following the "super app" model. In 2014, it moved its headquarters to Singapore and renamed itself to just Grab.

It currently mostly operates in Southeast Asia. It is the region's first "decacorn" (a startup with a valuation of over US$10 billion),[11][12] and as of May 2021 its valuation was just under US$40 billion.


The Grab app assigns taxis and private hire cars to nearby commuters 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.[13] The company makes money by taking a cut of the booking fees.[14] 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 airports, hawker centres, taxi queues, and depots.[14] The company also educates taxi drivers on using the smartphone and their mobile app.[3] In addition to large cities, Grab has also tried to penetrate the markets of smaller cities.[14]

Through an expansion in the number of services offered, such as food and grocery delivery, and online payments, the company is aiming for a "super app" model catering to a variety of everyday needs. This is similar to the model used by the Alipay and WeChat apps.[15]



The idea of creating a taxi-booking mobile app for Southeast Asia, similar to those being pioneered in the US, first came from Anthony Tan (陈炳耀, Chen Bingyao)[16] while he was at Harvard Business School. Motivated to make taxi rides safer in Malaysia, Tan launched the "My Teksi" app in Malaysia in 2012 together with Tan Hooi Ling, another Harvard graduate. MyTeksi was started with an initial grant of US$25,000 from Harvard Business School and Anthony Tan's personal capital.[17][3][13][18]

Early expansion[edit]

GrabTaxi expanded to the Philippines in August 2013,[19] and to Singapore and Thailand in October of the same year.[20] In 2014, Grab in partnership with HDT Holdings, introduced 100 BYD e6 electric taxis in Singapore to form the biggest e-taxi fleet in Southeast Asia.[21] In 2014, GrabTaxi further continued its growth and expansion to new countries: first launching in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in February, and Jakarta in Indonesia in June.[22][23] In May 2014, the company launched GrabCar[24][25] 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.[26] In November 2014, GrabTaxi launched its first GrabBike service in Ho Chi Minh City as a trial service.[27] GrabTaxi initially applied for financial grant from Khazanah Nasional, the sovereign wealth fund of the government of Malaysia. However, long internal checks and processes had caused Khazanah did not agree on a deal.[28] It was the Singapore government investment fund Temasek that had agreed to finance US$10 million into Grabtaxi. In the same year, the company moved its headquarter from Malaysia to Singapore.[29] Founder Anthony Tan took up Singaporean citizenship shortly after.[30] By 2015, GrabBike's motorcycle service rides had spread throughout Vietnam and Indonesia. GrabBike also provides medical insurance for their passengers and drivers.[31][32] In February 2015, the company launched GrabCar+ (a service that provides a fleet of higher-end cars) in the Philippines.[24]

Rebranding and expansion of transportation services[edit]

In January 2016, GrabTaxi was rebranded as "Grab", which encompasses all the company's products: GrabCar (personal cars), GrabBike (motorcycle taxis), GrabHitch (carpooling) and GrabExpress (last mile delivery) with a new, redesigned logo.[33] 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.[34] In December 2016, Grab introduced "GrabShare", which offers taxi and car-sharing services.[35]

In February 2017, Grab launched the GrabCoach service for booking large passenger vehicles.[36] In 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.[37] 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. Later that month, Grab launched a simplified flat-fare structure, JustGrab.[38] Since 24 May 2017, a new multiple stop rule charged $5 extra for addition of a stop outside the original booking.[39][40]

On 9 March 2017, LTA introduced a new regulation of private hire cars called Private Hire Car Vocational Licence (PDVL), with effect from 1 July 2017, and tagged to the route number.[41] This is to ensure the quality of private hire car services, and to prevent route fraud.[42]

In March 2018, Grab merged with Uber's Southeast Asian operations.[43] As part of the acquisition, Grab took over Uber's assets and operations, including UberEats, which led to Grab's expansion of food delivery services.[44] Uber holds a 28% stake in Grab.[45] Grab also launched their eScooter rental service known as GrabWheels in March 2018.[46][47] 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.[48]

Expanding beyond transportation[edit]

In November 2016, Grab launched GrabPay payment service as a digital payment service among third-party merchants, allowing users to use the app for purchases outside of ride-hailing.[49] In December 2016, Grab launched GrabRewards rewards programme.[50]

In April 2017, Grab confirmed the acquisition of Indonesian online payment startup Kudo. The Kudo platform was integrated with Grab's payment system and was Grab's initial step into expanding fintech services.[51]

In May 2018, Grab launched GrabFood food delivery service.[52] In October 2018, Grab launched GrabExpress courier service.[53] In 2018, Grab also launched Grab Financial, a financial arm of the company which offers payment, insurance, and financing services.[54] In November 2018, Grab invested in Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group's Ovo platform to compete against rival Go-Jek.[55] Ovo is Indonesia's leading digital e-payment platform. In December 2018, Grab launched GrabClub subscription programme.[56]

Recent developments[edit]

In January 2019, Grab announced that it will build a new Singapore headquarters in one-north as it expands its operations. It is expected to be ready in the fourth quarter of 2020.[57] The US$135M facility will be developed and managed by Ascendas Reit (now under CapitaLand).[58] Grab held its ground-breaking ceremony for its future headquarters on 29 March 2019,[59][60] during which it announced a new function to plan journeys and pay for public transportation fares.[61] The headquarters will support a total of 3,000 employees, consolidating its office space currently spread around four locations.[62]

In February 2019, the company launched GrabPet in Singapore. Under the new service, passengers with pets will be allocated to Grab drivers who have received training in pet handling and welcome animals in their vehicles.[63]

In March 2019, Grab announced that they would be implementing a S$4 penalty charge for users who cancel Singapore bookings 5 minutes after it is made. It will also apply if the driver waits at the pick-up point for longer than 5 minutes.[64] Supposed to be implemented on 11 March 2019, the implementation of this policy was delayed to 25 March 2019.[65] In Malaysia, the cancellation fee ranges from RM3 to RM5.[66]

In April 2019, Grab launched its first cloud kitchen (called GrabKitchen) in Indonesia under its food delivery service.[67] 50 GrabKitchens were set up in six Southeast Asian countries within a year.[68] Grab also launched their super app in April 2019 to consolidate its online services into one platform, as well as launching Hotels and Tickets.[69]

In November 2019, Grab announced they had partnered with JapanTaxi [jp] and Careem, allowing selected users to book rides using the Grab app in Japan and the Middle East respectively.[70][71]

A month later, Grab, co-branded with Mastercard, launched a numberless payment card (being the first in Asia).[72]

In February 2020, Grab launched GrabCare for healthcare workers in Singapore, starting with 24-hour services to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and National Centre for Infectious Diseases. This came after reports of increased discrimination due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult for healthcare workers to get rides.[73] Grab also expanded its GrabMart and GrabAssistant services to more cities and countries to meet increased demand for online food and grocery deliveries. To support its driver- and merchant-partners during the outbreak, Grab committed US$40 million to relief initiatives across Southeast Asia.[74]

In November 2020, Grab announced the launch of its Tech Center in Jakarta, Indonesia for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).[75]

In December 2020, Grab was granted a digital bank licence from Singapore together with Singtel.[76][77]

In April 2021, Grab announced plans to go public through a SPAC merger with Altimeter Growth Corp., for $39.6 billion. It was reported to be the largest blank-check merger at the time.[78][79][80]

In July 2021, Indonesia's Emtek Group invested $375 million into Grab's Indonesian business unit to accelerate digital adoption of small and medium businesses within the country.[81][82]

Number of users[edit]

In May 2014, GrabTaxi said it had 1.2 million downloads. At around June 2013, it claimed to be making one booking every eight seconds, or 10,000 a day, representing sixteen-fold growth within a year.[14] In November 2017, Grab reached one billion rides with 66 concurrent rides in one second across seven countries, occupying 95% 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.[83] In December 2018, Grab claimed to have served 920 million kilometres worth of rides to its users that year.[84]

As of April 2021, Grab is reported to have more than 214 million app downloads and operations in more than 400 cities.[85] The company has more than 500 deaf and hearing-impaired driver partners.[86] It also has other individuals with disabilities, including some with cerebral palsy, on its platform.[87]

The COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly increased Grab usage of its on-demand delivery, for example, Grab reported the successful onboarding of over 600,000 new merchants across Southeast Asia in 2020.[88] As of December 2020, Grab had 5 million registered driver partners, 2 million merchant partners and 2 million GrabKios agents in Indonesia.[89]


Grab's investors include venture and hedge funds, automobile companies and other ride-hailing firms. Investors include Japan's Softbank Group and MUFG, Booking Holdings, Toyota and Microsoft.[90][91]

In April 2014, the company secured more than US$10 million in series A funding from Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India.[92] 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.[93] 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.[94] 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.[95] 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).[96] In September 2016, Grab raised another US$750 million in series F funding from SoftBank, Didi, and Honda.[97][98] In August 2017, Grab raised US$2.5 billion in series G funding from SoftBank, Didi, and Toyota.[99] As of March 2018, Grab was valued at US$6 billion.[13]

In October 2018, Grab raised another $200 million from Booking Holdings (formerly known as Priceline).[100]

In December 2018 the company announced the plans to hold Series H of funding. The total amount of funding is expected to reach $6.5 billion.[101][102]

In February 2020, the company announced it had raised a total of $856 million in two tranches: $706 million from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc and $150 million from TIS INTEC, an IT solutions business out of Japan.[103]

In January 2021, Grab Financial Group, the company's financial services unit, raised more than $300 million from South Korea's Hanwha Asset Management.[104][105]


In 2015, GrabTaxi opened a US$100 million research and development facility in the central business district of Singapore.[106] 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.[107] 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.[108] Up till the end of 2018, the Data Science department in Singapore had more than 60 data scientists, mostly with PhD, and was leading all the R&D facilities in intellectual property creation. 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.[109] The company states that it has no plans to launch in North America.[110]


In the Philippines, GrabCar was fully legalised after being accredited as a Transportation Network Company (TNC) by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in 2015.[111] 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.[112] The amendments were passed by the Parliament of Malaysia on 28 July 2017, which directly legalised both services to operate in the country.[113] In Singapore, similar laws that legalised the service were passed in February 2017.[114] Since its foundation, GrabTaxi received majority votes in an online poll conducted by Singapore's Straits Times as the taxi app of choice.[115]

In Malaysia and Singapore, GrabPay has quickly become one of the most popular methods for consumers making cashless payments on mobile.[116] In Malaysia, GrabPay's largest competitors are Boost and Touch n Go respectively. In Singapore, GrabPay competes with global players ranging from Shopee Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.


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 had 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 the efficiency of taxi drivers in Malaysia. The company is working with the government department to improve the image of taxi drivers in the city.[117][118][119]

In the Philippines, GrabBike has temporarily stopped operations following the 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.[120]

In May 2016, the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam (DRVN) suggested that both Grab and Uber taxis should have signed 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. At the same time, both Grab and Uber were excluded from such requirements.[121] 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.[122] 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.[123]

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.[124] 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.[125]

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.[126]

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.[41] This is to ensure that commuter's interest is better protected in particular safety.[42]


Issues between driver and passengers[edit]

On 23 September 2016, a female passenger in Singapore was sexually assaulted by an elderly GrabCar driver after she fell asleep during the ride.[127] The driver was jailed for 16 months the following year.[128] On 25 March 2017, a female passenger in Singapore was assaulted by a Grab driver.[129] The driver was subsequently suspended from his service, although he was still allowed to pick up passengers on the streets.[130] In May, a GrabCar driver in Chiang Mai, Thailand was arrested for sexual assault.[131] On 13 June, a female passenger in Seri Kembangan, Malaysia was reportedly raped by a Grab driver.[132] 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 full assistance to be given to the victim.[133][134] Another incident on 12 August involved a female student passenger in Puchong, Malaysia who was assaulted by a Grab driver after a misunderstanding occurred during the drive: the enraged driver broke the female passenger's nose. The driver was arrested by police two days later. In response, Grab issued a statement and said it "would not tolerate physical violence or verbal abuse".[135]

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 full assistance given to the victim and her family.[136]

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.[citation needed] The driver allegedly dropped off both the woman and her mother at the wrong house, although the correct house was a 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 passengers.[137][138] 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 on social media. In the end, the assailant was banned forever from the Grab platform as a result.[139]

Cases of Grab drivers harassing their customers and the #MeToo movement in the United States and other countries have also recently emboldened women in Indonesia to speak out against harassment by Grab drivers, such as when a driver asks for personal information or sends them unsolicited messages after a trip.[140]

Disputes with local taxi operators and violence against Grab drivers[edit]

Disputes have occurred between Grab drivers and local taxi operators as taxi drivers complained about a decline in their passenger numbers and income since Grab (and its competitor Uber) began to gain foothold in their areas.[141] Until December 2016, around 65 assault cases towards GrabBike drivers by local taxibike drivers have been reported in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.[142] Much violence has 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.[143][144] Grab drivers and passengers in Kuala Lumpur have also been the subject of harassment from local taxi drivers.[145]

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.[146] On 26 October, a Grab driver was killed in Pasay, Philippines by a suspect disguised as a legitimate passenger, who subsequently fled with the victim's vehicle and personal belongings.[147][148] 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.[149][150] 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.[151][152] Following the arrest and interrogation of several suspects, the police later able to catch the main culprits.[153][154] Two foreign nationals; an Indian national and Myanmar national were charged for the murder as the main suspects in the country Magistrate's Court on 16 July.[155] Claims out of Chiang Mai in November 2018 accuse Grab of pushing tuk-tuk renters and drivers out of business,[156] which also resulted in violent encounter with enranged tuk-tuk driver in earlier October.[157]

On 24 May 2019, a Grab driver in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia went missing for several days before his car and remains were found in two separate locations after being murdered by two robbers disguised as passengers.[158] The two suspects; a foreigner (aged 24) and a local man (20) were arrested by police several days later in 1Borneo Hypermall parking lots and confessed on the killing where they dumped the driver's body in Kampung Shahbandar, Tuaran District while his car was left in Indah Permai, Sepanggar with blood stains found on the car steering wheel, handbrake, front door and windshield.[159][160] Barely days after the first missing incident, another missing Grab driver in the Philippines was also found murdered in a condominium in Cainta.[161]

Issues about cancellation of GrabFood orders[edit]

Facebook posts of users based in the Philippines lament intentional cancellations of GrabFood orders. In its statement, Grab urges users to use the app responsibly, and stern penalties such as suspension will be charged to their account.[162]


In light of COVID-19, Grab announced in April 2020 that top management salaries would be slashed by 20%. Employees were encouraged to take up voluntary no-pay leave[163] in an effort to manage cost. It was further announced in June 2020 that Grab would be cutting 360 employees, which was 5% of the total headcount then across their South East Asia offices.[164]

In conjunction to Grab on the effort of fighting the COVID-19, Grab has introduced the new hygiene measure (GrabProtect), which promotes new safety features, updated safety policies and transport hygiene kits to the driver as well as passenger towards promoting the hygiene standards in the ride-hailing industry.


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External links[edit]