SoftBank emerges GrabTaxi Holdings' largest investor with $250-mn funding

SoftBank Corp, the telecom company controlled by Masayoshi Son, has invested $250 million in GrabTaxi Holdings Pte as the cab-booking service fended off competition from Uber Technologies Inc in Southeast Asia, Bloomberg reported.

SoftBank would emerge the largest investor in GrabTaxi, Anthony Tan who set up the mobile-phone application in 2012, said in an interview in Bangkok yesterday.

He however, did not provide stake details. Over the last 14 months GrabTaxi had raised about $340 million in the last 14 months, according to its statement. 

GrabTaxi's funding comes as Uber said it was close to raising a round of financing that would give it a valuation of as much as $40 billion. Ride-hailing apps on smartphones were gaining in popularity globally.

Tan said the company would do whatever it took to ensure that it maintained its leadership in an ethical and moral way. He said it was a fight for market share, adding that the company was many many times bigger than its closest competitors and intended to grow fast.
GrabTaxi has grown to become the largest and most widely used mobile taxi booking application provider in Southeast Asia and
currently serves 17 cities across six countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Developed to solve two main issues in the taxi industry –create safer and more reliable rides for passengers as wellas improve drivers' livelihoods – GrabTaxi has 60,000 taxi drivers on its network, up fourfold from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, reported that the service was also known as MyTeksi, and the same GrabTaxi app could be used to hail the nearest cab in Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

It provided estimated fares, trackable taxi rides and details about drivers such as photos and vehicle registration numbers.

The venture started business two years ago after being runner-up in a 2011 business plan contest organised by Harvard Business School and had since expanded to emerge as the largest taxi booking app in Southeast Asia, according to SoftBank and GrabTaxi.

The investment also bolstered the presence of SoftBank in Asia outsider Japan along with its plan to invest $10 billion in India's Internet market.

''GrabTaxi is the largest and most widely used mobile taxi booking app in Southeast Asia and we believe it has great potential for further growth,'' a SoftBank spokesman in Tokyo said in an email.

''With this investment we'll also be able to further build on our presence of Internet companies in the region, and will aim to leverage synergies.''

GrabTaxi has over 60,000 registered taxi drivers, 2.5 million app downloads and 500,000 active users who use the service at least once a month, the spokesman said, adding that SoftBank will work with GrabTaxi to accelerate its growth.

Softbank's previous Indian investment includes a $627 million in eretailer Snapdeal. (See: SoftBank invests $627 mn in Snapdeal).