GrabTaxi, founded in 2012 in Malaysia, has become the latest investment of Japanese internet and telecommunications giant SoftBank. The internet and media arm of SoftBank has sunk $250 million into the taxi hailing app, making it the largest investor to date and taking the estimated value of the company to $1 billion. GrabTaxi currently operates across seventeen cities in six countries in Southeast Asia. Other investors to support the fast-growing taxi hailing network this year have been Tiger Global Management in the US and Vertex Venture Holdings, a subsidiary of the Singapore government investment arm Temasek.
The GrabTaxi Network
GrabTaxi is currently considered to be the taxi hailing app with the largest network in Southeast Asia. Covering six countries, GrabTaxi (also known as MyTeksi) has over 60,000 taxi drivers registered, serving 500,000 active users, defined as those who use the service a minimum of once per month and 2.5 million downloads. Users can access the same app to hail the nearest taxi in seventeen major cities in the six countries – Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia – as well as view information including estimated fares for their journey, details about the driver and car that will be picking them up such as vehicle registration number and photograph plus trackable taxi rides. A spokesperson for GrabTaxi said that the latest series of investments will be used to fund campaigns to recruit more drivers to the network as well as staffing and marketing campaigns to enable the firm to compete against some of the biggest global players in the market. In terms of passenger numbers, bookings, driver network and usage GrabTaxi are the biggest players in the field, although street hailing is still the strongest competition. The firm will be concentrating on regional expansion and on fortifying efforts in existing locations in order to compete effectively with other taxi hailing apps in the area such as Uber.
SoftBank has a strong reputation for investing in both start-ups and fast-growing businesses and is looking at present to invest some $10 billion in start-ups based in India. The past year has seen SoftBank invest $210 million in another taxi app, Ola, plus $627 million in Snapdeal, an online Indian shopping portal. The SoftBank PrinceVille Investment fund, of which Mukesh Valabhji serves on the board, is currently working to place $250 million into between twelve and fifteen growth stage companies looking to expand into the Asian market, with focus on technology companies. Mukesh Valabhji is a prominent global investor from the Seychelles with a number of interests across a variety of business sectors including real estate, hospitality, trading, media and telecommunications. The PrinceVille Fund will benefit businesses bringing social media, gaming, cloud computing, mobile apps, ecommerce and online advertising to Asian markets. In one of the biggest investment pledges in the renewable energy sector in India, SoftBank along with Foxconn and Bharti Enterprises have promised a sum expected to be around $20 billion in solar projects in India, generating a minimum of 20 gigawatts of energy under the remit of the newly-formed company SBG Cleantech. SoftBank will retain majority control of SBG, with Foxconn and Bharti Enterprises as minority stakeholders. Foxconn will also be helping with delivering the planned solar equipment for the project.
A fourth-generation Seychellois, Mukesh Valabhji has a long and respected history of investing in a number of business sectors. One of his primary vehicles is the Intelvision cable television, broadband internet and telecommunications service in the Seychelles. He has also made many key investments in commercial real estate within the Seychelles, Singapore and Dubai including premium office strata in the Samsung Hub building within the Raffles Place financial district of Singapore and the Building by Daman in Dubai. A group of investors advised by Mukesh Valabhji are behind the new luxury Six Senses resort due to open on a private island in the Seychelles later this year. The resort will feature 5-star accommodation in premium condominiums and luxury branded residences, waterfront entertainment and dining facilities and much more. The Valabhji family have been involved for more than three-quarters of a century in trading businesses within the Seychelles, operating currently under the holding company of Abhaye Valabhji Pty Ltd, retailing across various lines of business including automobiles, furniture, Yamaha outboard engines, household appliances and much more. Abhaye Valabhji Pty Ltd is spearheaded by the brother of Mukesh Valabhji, Anil. Mukesh Valabhji has been working with SoftBank PrinceVille Investments, using his wealth of investment expertise to help generate further global investment in technology start-ups and growth companies.
See our previous post to find out what Japan’s Softbank Corp names their new president.