Grab Expands Beyond Ride-Hailing to Become the “Everyday Superapp”


Grab announces GrabPlatform

Grab continues to shake up the exploding ride-sharing market in Asia in the wake of Toyota’s billion-dollar investment last month in the Singapore-based brand.

Already Southeast Asia’s largest startup, with a market value of USD$10 billion, Grab is expanding into food delivery, finance and other services as it continues to disrupt and transform.

Its runway has been cleared as it no longer counts Uber as a rival, recently acquiring its Southeast Asian business in a deal with repercussions for the ride-sharing industry in the region and beyond.

Grab completed more than one billion rides since launching in 2013, an impressive feat that has given it the confidence to spread its wings.

“I could never really go where I wanted to go because I was afraid of taxi drivers,” said Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling of the inspiration for the brand. (She’s making a rare appearance at the Rise tech conference in Hong Kong this week.)

Thanks to the financial backing and resources of the world’s biggest automaker, Grab is pushing into mobility services and other applications (and investing in other startups) to fuel its growth and utility.

Case in point: this week it announced GrabFresh, an on-demand grocery delivery service.

In partnership with HappyFresh, an online grocery shopping platform, Grab’s app now offers the convenience of ordering trained personal shoppers to fetch items and fulfill mobile orders in-store, while its fleet of drivers then deliver the goods.

In addition to bringing local food vendors online, Grab is wooing more Southeast Asian consumers online through an offering that expands on ride-hailing with food and package delivery, cashless payments and financial services.

GrabFresh food delivery service by Grab

It has gained some insights into its new business because as part of its Uber deal—hailed as the largest deal of its kind in the region—Grab picked up Uber’s food delivery business in Asia along with a payments platform.

Today it revealed more of its bigger plan with the announcement of GrabPlatform, a suite of APIs for other brands that wish to integrate their services with Grab.

Its goal is to expand Grab beyond ride-hailing to become an “Everyday Superapp” that will welcome partners to expand its range of services and utility to consumers.

Just as Amazon has become “The Everything Store,” Grab wants to be the go-to, one-stop shopping (and booking) service for SE Asia.

Its competitors aren’t idly watching, of course. Indonesian ride-sharing giant Go-Jek is rapidly expanding its operations in Southeast Asia, including opening offices in Vietnam and Thailand.

Go-Jek, which started as a motorcycle-ride hailing service in 2010, has tipped its ambitions by adding meal deliveries, home cleaning and other services via its app.

Singapore’s competition watchdog questioned Grab’s acquisition of Uber, but Tan argues that the market, and ride-hailing more generally, remains competitive in Southeast Asia despite Uber’s exit.

“There’s still a lot of existing competition,” he commented. “We don’t foresee it ending ever … and to be honest we don’t want it to because we continue to learn from them. We continue to learn form alternative players who take alternative strategies [and] operational tactics.”