JAKARTA – The founder and CEO of Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank Group on Monday said his company was set to plow $2 billion into Singapore-based ride-hailing application Grab, the Southeast Asian counterpart to Uber.
Masayoshi Son told reporters in Jakarta after meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo that part of the fresh funds would be destined to building Grab’s new headquarters in Indonesia.
“We will make the Grab head office in Indonesia and invest 2 billion US dollars through Grab,” Son said, while also pledging to pump money into Indonesian e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia. A unicorn is a private company with a valuation of $1 billion or more.
The Japanese executive signaled that SoftBank was particularly interested in creating a transport network reliant on electric vehicles.
“We will invest in the ecosystem,” Son said. “We would like to get the blue sky back to Jakarta.”
Grab said it would use the funds to “drive the digitalization of crucial services and infrastructure.”
Back in March, Grab announced it had secured $1.46 billion of fresh funding from SoftBank’s so-called Vision Fund, the world’s biggest venture fund for financing projects in the tech sector.
“The investment is a clear statement of belief in our vision to grow Southeast Asia’s technology ecosystem as the region’s Number 1 super app,” Grab’s co-founder and CEO, Anthony Tan, said at the time.
“Looking ahead, we aim to continue improving the lives of many millions of Southeast Asians by providing enhanced income opportunities through our platform and giving our users more choice and convenience,” he added.
Grab said it intended to use the funds to expand its verticals such as financial services, food delivery, parcel delivery and digital payments, as well as to roll out new services.
It added that it planned to invest a significant portion of fresh proceeds in Indonesia, where it is the leading on-demand transport provider, hogging 60 percent of the two-wheel market and 70 percent of the four-wheel market.
Grab’s main rival in the country is the Jakarta-headquartered GoJek, which has a bigger presence in the rural areas.
Grab acquired the Southeast Asian operations of its United States-based rival Uber Technologies last year and has since been engaged in an aggressive fundraising drive.
The company, founded in Malaysia in 2012 with the name “MyTeksi,” has grown exponentially and now completely dominates the ride-hailing market in eight countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand).
Currently valued at about $14 billion, the startup became Southeast Asia’s first “decacorn” once its estimated valuation zoomed past the $10-billion mark.
Last Friday, SoftBank announced the creation of the Vision Fund 2, which will be worth at least $108 billion and will see the participation of tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft and Foxconn.