Asia Minute: Where Uber Trails the Competition

Aug 31, 2017

Credit Mark Warner

The app-based ride service Uber has been getting a lot of publicity this week because of its new CEO—just hired away from the travel website Expedia. But in Southeast Asia, one of Uber’s rivals has been picking up steam—and investors. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

In North America, the biggest name in app-based transportation is still Uber…followed by Lyft.  But in East Asia, it’s more complicated.  The whole world of turning to an app on your phone to get a ride—it’s a lucrative business in Asia that’s developing rapidly—and in addition to hedge fund money and corporate money and venture capital, there is some complicated cross-ownership.

Take China’s leading player in the field: Didi Chuxing. It’s based in Beijing and a round of new funding this past spring pushed its valuation beyond $50 billion…nearly three-quarters the size of Uber—which itself owns about 20% of the Chinese company.

And then there’s Grab—a much smaller upstart based in Singapore.  Grab is at or near the top of the heap of app-guided driving services in much of Southeast Asia….from Vietnam to Indonesia.

Just last month, Grab raised another couple of billion dollars in finance—including investments from Japan’s Softbank and that Chinese ride-sharing service: Didi Chuxing.

Just this week, Toyota announced it will invest an undisclosed amount in Grab—to provide services of an undescribed nature to the company’s customers.

Honda has also invested in Grab….and Toyota’s move comes about a year after another investment the company made: in Uber.