SoftBank invests $250m in Uber-rival GrabTaxi

Grabtaxi mobile app

Malaysia’s GrabTaxi, which has emerged as Southeast Asia’s leading taxi mobile app, said it raised $250 million in Series D financing from SoftBank Corp, the technology firm controlled by Masayoshi Son, marking the largest ever funding round by an internet company in the region.

This dwarfs the $40 million that its closest competitor in the region, EasyTaxi had raised in its latest series D funding round.

The latest round of funding comes within a month of GrabTaxi raising $65 million in Series C from new investors – the US based Tiger Global Management and Hillhouse Capital Management – and its existing investors GGV Capital, Vertex Venture Holdings and Qunar.

For GrabTaxi, the total investment in the last 14 months amounts to almost $340 million. The company said it had 500,000 active users and 2.5 million mobile app downloads to date.

The fresh capital will give the company increased muscle to pull ahead of the growing competition in the region and also take on the global leader in this space, Uber, which has made steady inroads in Southeast Asian countries after entering these markets earlier this year.

Uber, which is already present in 230 cities, and raised more the $1.6 billion so far,  is in talks with investors to raise another $1 billion to fund its global expansion.

Founded by Harvard Business School Graduates, Anthony Tan & Hooi Ling Tan in 2012, GrabTaxi currently serves 17 cities across six countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

“GrabTaxi estimates that there are three taxi bookings made through their app every second across the region, which is almost an 800% increase from a year ago,” the company said.

GRABTAXI IN NUMBERS

Three bookings are made every second

500,000 active users use GrabTaxi at least once in a month

GrabTaxi has been downloaded onto more than 2.5 million mobile devices

60,000 taxi drivers registered with the network

For Softbank, this is the second major investments in the taxi space. In October, it had picked up equity interest in India’s Olacabs for $210 million.

Through this strategic investment and partnership with GrabTaxi, the SoftBank Group aims to further build its presence in Southeast Asia and maximize synergies with its network of Internet companies around the world, the company said in a statement.

Nikesh Arora, Vice Chairman of SoftBank Corp and CEO of SIMI said, “In two short years, GrabTaxi has become the dominant player in Southeast Asia’s taxi booking mobile app industry, which is a testament to Anthony’s outstanding leadership. We look forward to working with his talented team and supporting GrabTaxi’s further expansion in the region.”

Tan, GrabTaxi Founder and Group CEO said, “We are excited to end a stellar year of growth with this record funding from the global powerhouse SoftBank. We are thankful that they believe in us and will leverage SoftBank’s expertise and group synergies across their mobile and Internet platforms to further accelerate our growth. This new round of funding will help drive our mission of revolutionizing and improving the way Southeast Asians commute more aggressively than ever before.”

THE RIDE SO FAR 

• Founded in July 2011 as MyTeksi in Malaysia.

• Launched to the Malaysian public on June 5th 2012.

• Launched in Philippines in August 2013 as GrabTaxi.

• Beta launched in Thailand and Singapore in October 2013.

• Beta launched in Vietnam in February 2014.

• Announced its Series A funding in April 2014.

• Announced its Series B funding worth more than US$15 mil in May 2014.

• Beta launched in Indonesia in June 2014.

• Announced its Series C funding in October 2014, bringing the total VC financing and loans to approximately USD $90 mil raised in just a year.

• Launch of GrabBike in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

• Announced its Series D funding in December 2014 worth US $250 million, bringing the total investment raised in the last 14 months to almost US $340 million