Oh my goodness! In an undoubtedly surprising turn of events (seriously hoping this isn't happening), Grab and Uber, two of the biggest car-booking apps in the world, are close to signing a deal that would result in the US company withdrawing in the Southeast Asian market and sell its regional operations to their Singapore rival in return for a more than 20 per cent stake in Grab. Fellow Rizal and Metro Manila commuters, apparently the move has been reported to be under discussion for months and comes in just weeks after Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank, Uber’s biggest investor called on the Silicon Valley company to focus on core markets. SoftBank also holds stakes in other ridesharing companies worldwide like Singapore's Grab, China's Didi, and India’s Ola.

The deal will be like the agreement that Uber struck with their fierce competitor Chinese ridesharing company Didi Chuxing back in 2016, when the former sold its China operations to Didi in exchange for a 20 percent stake in the company. 

The agreement will put an end to a lengthy and onerous battle for dominion in the Southeast Asian ridesharing industry, which is undoubtedly one of the fastest-growing markets in the world (as of yet) and home to over 600 million people. For Uber, this is an opportunity to sort out their financial problems and boost profits in anticipation of its planned initial public offering (IPO) set next year. It has been reported that the company has spent over $10 billion since it was founded in 2009.

Grab  is presently valued at $6 billion, currently has operations in 178 cities all over Southeast Asia and its mobile app has been downloaded over 80 million times. When Uber goes, it will be the only ridesharing app available to us for booking cars. The Singapore-based company was founded in 2012 and has expanded aggressively across the region, operating in eight countries. Alongside car-booking, it has also launched a mobile payments platform called GrabPay which is designed for markets with under-developed banking. I'm quite fond of their delivery service called GrabExpress which I frequent for shipping and receiving fragile items on the same day. I only have good things to say about it, so far.

With Uber’s impending departure from the Southeast Asian car-booking scene, a couple of important questions arise, like, what does this mean for the ridesharing economy in our country? And how would their exit affect the livelihood of thousands of existing Uber drivers (I know a handful of them personally) in the Philippines? I hope this all ends well for all parties involved including the commuters.

The deal is expected to be finalised later this month and was first reported by Bloomberg. You can check out the article here. Will it push through? Are we really bidding farewell to Uber?

Grab refused to comment and Uber did not immediately respond to requests for comments either. We'll just have to wait and see.


*Photo credits to the owners


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Article published on March 12, 2018

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