Uber ri­val GrabTaxi ex­pects to break even this year

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

GrabTaxi Hold­ings Pte. ex­pects to break even in 2016, just four years af­ter its found­ing, as South­east Asia's largest ven­ture-backed startup broad­ens its ride­book­ing ser­vices to stay a step ahead of hard-charg­ing Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc.

The re­gion's largest car- and taxi-hail­ing ser­vice is es­chew­ing an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing for the mo­ment while it works on ex­pand­ing a car-hire and mo­tor­cy­cle-taxi ser­vice strad­dling six coun­tries into ar­eas like car­pool­ing, co­founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer An­thony Tan said in Sin­ga­pore.

"Many parts of our busi­ness will ac­tu­ally be prof­itable this year," said Tan, a Har­vard Busi­ness School grad­u­ate whose grand­fa­ther drove a taxi. "So this year for sure," the com­pany will break even. While "an IPO is al­ways an op­tion, but for us, it's im­por­tant to stay fo­cused, ex­e­cute and out-serve the cus­tomers."

GrabTaxi, founded by Tan and part­ner Tan Hooi Ling, raised $350 mil­lion in its lat­est round from in­vestors in­clud­ing Coatue Man­age­ment LLC, China In­vest­ment Corp., GGV Cap­i­tal and Didi Kuaidi. It has raised more than $700 mil­lion to date from in­vestors in­clud­ing Ja­pan's Soft­Bank Corp. and Sin­ga­pore's Ver­tex Ven­ture Hold­ings, pos­si­bly push­ing its val­u­a­tion past the $1 bil­lion "uni­corn" mark. "Our in­vestors are very long-term in­vestors," he said. "To them, in the end, it's about how to build the great­est tech com­pany out of South­east Asia."

Tan wouldn't dis­cuss GrabTaxi's val­u­a­tion or op­er­a­tional sta­tis­tics ex­cept to say av­er­age daily book­ings have risen more than 10-fold from a year ear­lier.

On-de­mand car ser­vices have taken off around the world as mo­bile us­age ex­pands and rid­ers seek sim­pler or quicker al­ter­na­tives to taxis and pub­lic trans­porta­tion. Yet Uber tends to lose money per ride though rid­er­ship is grow­ing. On a Novem­ber call with in­vestors, act­ing chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Gau­tam Gupta said Uber is prof­itable in two of its big­gest coun­tries, though he wouldn't name them. The US ri­val is now en­croach­ing on GrabTaxi's turf. Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Travis Kalan­ick is spend­ing ag­gres­sively to ex­pand its global net­work and is mak­ing in­roads into GrabTaxi's home mar­kets, from Malaysia and Viet­nam to Sin­ga­pore. GrabTaxi, which will adopt the "Grab" brand hence­forth, has more than 200,000 driv­ers around its home re­gion.

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