Grab, the leading ride-hailing platform in Southeast Asia, said it raised US$750 million in an oversubscribed Series F equity funding round led by Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank Group Corp. (TYO: 9984), with participation from both new and existing investors.

The new funds increased Grab’s total capital position to over US$1 billion, reportedly at a US$3 billion valuation, becoming “the best capitalized technology startup and mobile internet company in Southeast Asia.”

Since its Series E funding in August 2015, Grab has nearly quadrupled its total number of drivers and active users, as well as rides volume. The Grab app has been downloaded onto over 21 million mobile devices, and users have access to over 400,000 drivers.

“Grab is the clear winner in the Southeast Asia mobile space. Anthony and his team have made impressive progress in building out Southeast Asia’s largest mobile internet company. We are committed to supporting local champions like Grab that have a vision for a next-generation internet ecosystem, and look forward to participating in their long-term success,” said SoftBank chairman & CEO Masayoshi Son, the second-richest man in Japan according to Forbes, with an estimated net worth of US$14.9 billion.

In July, SoftBank agreed to acquire UK-based ARM Holdings plc (LSE: ARM; NASDAQ: ARMH), whose microchips are used in more than 95% of all smartphones, for $32 billion in cash.

Grab operates the largest transportation network in Southeast Asia and is one of the most frequently used mobile platforms in the region with up to 1.5 million daily bookings. the company offers private car, motorbike, taxi, and carpooling services across 6 countries and 31 cities in Southeast Asia, with 1 out of every 4 passengers using multiple services.

“Our vision is to drive Southeast Asia transportation forward and transform the region’s mobile internet ecosystem. This latest funding, the largest in the history of Southeast Asia consumer technology, strengthens our ability to pursue those long-term goals as we continue to build on our market leadership,” said Grab CEO & co-founder Anthony Tan.

Grab plans to continue expanding its transportation services in Southeast Asia, home to 620 million people, and a rising population of middle class and mobile users, especially in Indonesia. Grab also plans to significantly invest in mobile payments capabilities, to enable a seamless daily transaction experience in a region with low banking and credit card penetration and limited cashless payment options.

Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest market with 250 million people, over a third of the region’s population. Grab will further expand the diversity, density and efficiency of its services in Jakarta, a congested city with 30 million people, where it believes its GrabCar, GrabBike, GrabTaxi and GrabFood services are relevant and transformative. In Indonesia, its GrabCar and GrabBike services grew 250x in one year as of the end of 1H2016, and continue to grow exponentially, the company said.

Grab said it will also continue to invest in data science and machine learning capabilities to support its growth and enable services like predictive demand, and driver and user targeting. Grab continues to hire “top international talent in its R&D centers in Singapore, Beijing and Seattle,” developing “innovative features like Flash that pools cars and taxis,” improving “back-end routing capabilities,” and building a proprietary “POI mapping database.”

The move comes less than two months after China’s ride-sharing leader Didi Chuxing agreed to acquire all assets of UberChina, including its brand, business operations and data within mainland China in a deal valued at $35 billion.

A few days later in August, Go-Jek, Indonesia’s leading ride-hailing motorcycle taxi mobile app startup, raised over $550 million in growth equity funding led by global investment firms KKR & Co. (NYSE: KKR), Warburg Pincus, Farallon Capital and Capital Group Private Markets, as well as existing shareholders and other international investors. Previous investors in Go-Jek include Sequoia India, Northstar Group, DST Global, NSI Ventures, Rakuten Ventures and Formation Group.

In June, Uber raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) in the largest funding it ever raised from a single investor, as part of a $5 billion funding round that valued the company at $68 billion, turning Uber into the world’s most highly valued startup.

A month ago, in a strategic shift focusing on autonomous vehicles,, Uber acquired self-driving trucks startup Otto, in a deal reportedly valued at $700 million. Uber also said it made a partnership deal with Swedish carmaker Volvo, “a leader when it comes to safety.”

In late August, Uber followed with the launch of an experimental driver-less car-hailing program in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home to Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics department, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company had yet achieved,

Photo: Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank.



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