Grab, a taxi-hailing service operating in South East Asia, announced on Monday that it has raised $2 billion (£1.5 billion) from Japanese tech investor Softbank and its Chinese equivalent, Didi Chuxing.
It expects to raise a further $500 million (£385 million) from other investors before the funding round is closed, bringing the total investment for the round to $2.5 billion (£1.9 billion). Grab claims the investment would be the largest ever to be made into a technology startup in Southeast Asia.
The Uber rival — which currently offers services in 65 cities across Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar — said it will use the funding to fuel its growth in South East Asia (home to over 600 million people) and invest in GrabPay, its mobile payments platform.
Grab was founded in 2012 by Malaysian Harvard Business School graduates Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling. Today, the company claims that its app has been downloaded onto over 50 million smartphones and used by 1.1 million drivers.
Tan said in a statement:
“We are delighted to deepen our strategic partnership with DiDi and SoftBank. We’re encouraged that these two visionary companies share our optimism for the future of Southeast Asia and its on-demand transportation and payments markets, and recognise that Grab is ideally positioned to capitalise on the massive market opportunities. With their support, Grab will achieve an unassailable market lead in ridesharing, and build on this to make GrabPay the payment solution of choice for Southeast Asia. We look forward to continuing to work with our valued partners in the future.”
SoftBank’s investment in Grab comes after a flurry of other large investments in recent months including London simulated worlds startup Improbable ($500 million; £384 million) in May and Silicon Valley autonomous vehicle technology company Nauto ($159 million; £122 million). The company is making some of the investments through a huge new $93 billion fund (£71 billion), which is the largest in the world of its kind.
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank, said: “Grab is using technology to address transportation and payments, some of the biggest challenges present in Southeast Asia, and we believe Grab is a tremendously exciting company in a dynamic and promising region. SoftBank is excited to deepen this partnership and we look forward to continuing to support Grab’s journey.”