Microsoft Makes Strategic Deal With Singapore’s Grab As Ridesharing Heats Up In Southeast Asia

Morning Report: Big tech is investing in ridesharing, as Microsoft and Grab strike a strategic deal.

Late yesterday, Microsoft announced that it will make a strategic investment in Singapore’s ridesharing company, Grab. The size of the investment was not released by either party.

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Let’s get you up to speed on who has invested in Grab. With about $6 billion in previous funding, the company was last valued at $11 billion, post-money. The company scored a strategic partnership with Toyota plus a $2 billion investment led by the Japanese automaker back in August. Other investors include Chinese ridesharing giant Didi Chuxing and Softbank, which led the company’s Series G in July 2017, among others.

And Grab isn’t just a ridesharing service in the traditional sense. The company, which operates in 235 cities in eight different countries in the region, provides many other services as well, including shuttle, family transport, bicycle, and food delivery programs and a payments service called GrabPay.

According to Microsoft’s statement, the companies will collaborate on a number of different projects including facial recognition as an authentication measure, fraud protection, translations, content recommendations, and map creation and quality. Grab will use the Microsoft Azure cloud computing service, its customer service team will use Microsoft’s group communications platform, and the company will work with Microsoft on a rewards program.

This investment will likely give Grab a leg up in its race with the Indonesia-based Go-Jek, which raised $1.5 billion in a round led by Tencent in February 2018 and is expanding its ridesharing service along with a multiplicity of other services to other countries in Southeast Asia.

Illustration Credit: Li Anne Dias