Grab My - Super APP ambitions slowed down by Covid-19

September 03, 2020

On 19 June 2020 Grab CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan wrote a Dear Grabbers letter to employees to inform them of a reduction of staff to just under 5% across the region because of the impact of Covid-19. It was a painful decision but necessary to continue in the build up of the Group. Cost review across the board is taking place to limit cash burn and to sunset non-core businesses. The last few years had been breathtaking enough as the Grab Unicorn raced to establish itself in 225 cities across 8 countries.  

Grab was founded in 2012 as MyTeksi, a ride-hailing App by two Malaysians, Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling who were colleagues at Harvard Business School. Anthony is one of the three sons of President and major shareholder of Tan Chong Motor Holdings Berhad (TCMH), Dato’ Tan Eng Chew. Anthony’s mother, Dato’ Dr Rosie Tan is the Deputy President of TCMH. Anthony and Hooi Ling expanded Grab across the region aggressively. It launched mobile payments service GrabPay in 2016 to offer consumers the convenience of paying for everyday services like bills, groceries, food, rides services, prepaid reloads, and more – all within one app.

On 26 March 2018 Grab announced the successful takeover of rival Uber’s ridesharing and food delivery business in Southeast Asia. Uber ended up as a substantial shareholder in Grab with a 27.5% stake. The Uber platform was integrated with that of Grab. GrabFood was launched in May 2018 which expanded exponentially with the inclusion of UberEats’ Southeast Asia operations. Grab Financial Group was established in July 2018 to provide solutions in payments, rewards, lending and insurance.

On 30 December 2019 Grab Holdings Inc announced that it had partnered Singtel, Asia’s leading telecommunications technology group to apply for a digital full bank licence in Singapore. Grab will hold a 60% stake while Singtel will hold 40%. In June 2020 Reuters reported that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)  had shortlisted 14 applicants out of which sources say the Grab-Singtel consortium was one of them. MAS did not name the shortlisted applicants.  

Grab has not made an announcement with regard to its interest in a Malaysian Digital Bank licence.

Read more

  1. Grab. Brand Story. Transport, Online Food Delivery.
  2. 16 June 2020. Note from Grab CEO and Co-Founder Anthony Tan
  3. The Jakarta Post. 29 June 2020. Eisya A. Eloksari.
  4. Reuters. 18 June 2020. Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan. Update 2- Grab-Singtel, Sea among 14 shortlisted for Singapore Digital Bank licences – sources.
  5. Entrepreneur Asia Pacific. 3 June 2019. Dipen Pradhan. How Grab is Becoming an Everyday, Everything App in Southeast Asia.,%2413%20billion%20market%20by%202022.
  6. Channel News Asia. 27 March 2018. Tang See Kit. Grab buys Uber’s Southeast Asia operations: Who are the winners and losers?
  7. INSEAD. Knowledge. Entrepreneurship. 19 September 2018. Jason Davis. The real story behind Ubers exit from Southeast Asia.
  8. Grab Press Centre. 26 March 2018. Grab merges with Uber in Southeast Asia.
  9. Grab Press Centre. 30 December 2019. Grab and Singtel partner for Singapore digital banking licence.
  10. Grab Financial Group.
  11. New Straits Times. 29 July 2018. South China Morning Post. How Grab's M'sian CEO steered it out of a garage in KL into a US$10 billion company.
  12. Techinasia. 4 June 2015. Leighton Cosseboom. Grab Taxi’s journey to a billion dollar startup (INFOGRAPHIC).,to%20help%20brands%20and%20publishers%20in%20the%20region.