The story of Grab’s never-ending Series H added a chapter today as Experian, a credit-rating company, added capital to the well-known ridehailing company.
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This new partnership is expected to help both companies serve underbanked individuals within Asia, according to the press release. For example, one goal behind the collaboration is to help entrepreneurs get access to loans across the region. More than 1 billion people in the region don’t have access to formal financial services, reports the World Bank.
The first known element of Grab’s Series H was announced on June 12, 2018. Since then, the company has recorded nearly a dozen entrants to the round from companies as diverse as Microsoft, SoftBank, Invesco, Hyundai, Tokyo Century, and, today, Experian.
When the Singapore-based company raised $1.46 billion from SoftBank, a partner at the firm said the huge infusion would go to help the company pursue “new opportunities across on-demand mobility, delivery and financial services as it continues to grow its offline-to-online platform across Southeast Asia.”
We don’t quite know what that language means, but the business is working to expand, and a slew of big investors are betting on its success. It doesn’t hurt that the company claims it holds 60 percent of the two-wheel market and 70 percent of the four-wheel market in Indonesia, the home-turf of its main competitor.
While most venture rounds are raised and closed in one go, sometimes a special round can stretch out over a multi-month period. In such cases, a firm may keep a pre-money valuation and allow more capital to come in at that price. Older firms raising at higher valuations (implying less dilution per dollar of additional capital due to a higher base price) can allow rounds to stay open longer than a firm raising a Series B, for example.
Does an ongoing round point a bullish or bearish signal for a company? Neither, inherently. In this case we know that Grab thinks that it needs billions more to meet its own vision. That’s bearish to some degree given the implied losses it will endure along the way. But it’s also bullish in that Grab can raise the money it wants.
That said, Grab’s Series H is now over a year old from first close to the most recent. We’re nearly at a loss to come up with a historical antecedent of similar scale and timeline. Grab’s Series H is worth several billion dollars—indeed, at least three of its components have been worth $1 billion or more—making it one of the largest venture rounds of all time, if we can still really consider it a single round.
The company reportedly says its aiming to close the Series H round at the end of 2019, at around $6.5 billion dollars.
Below, you’ll find a chart of Grab’s prior funding history. It excludes rounds where dollar amounts aren’t known, like this Experian deal.
The more than $9 billion that Grab has raised is an eye-popping sum. But it’s less than half of what China-based ridehailing Didi has raised. According to Crunchbase, Didi has raised nearly $21 billion during its life as a private company.
Uber is north of $20 billion as well, for example. In short, the ridehailing world has two hard laws. First, that none of the companies operating in the niche make money. And, second, that they need more of it.
But there is good news in the market for ridehailing companies. Uber and Lyft are now flush with fresh IPO cash, and after a rocky start to life as a public company, Uber itself managed to crest its IPO price recently. Since then, the firm has fallen back under the $45 per-share mark, but Uber is not in danger of falling apart like, say, Blue Apron, for example.
Indeed, money-losing tech companies are perhaps coming back into vogue. Some recent IPOs featuring unprofitable shops are performing so well as public companies that some VCs are complaining about underpriced IPOs. In that climate, Grab investors, both extant and potential, could view their investment as possibly liquid sooner than we might have guessed.
Regardless, we’ll be back when this Series H adds another partner and gets closer to its final, $6.5 billion goal.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias