Entrepreneur

Why Grab's Acquisition Of Uber Is The Homegrown Hero Story SEA Needs

  • Grab recently acquired all of Uber’s Southeast Asian operations, including Uber Eats. 
  • Besides establishing dominance in the ride-hailing sector of this region, Grab’s move is a milestone for all entrepreneurs, showing that locals can be on the same standing as international giants. 

If you’ve even dipped your toe into the startup ecosystem in this region, you’d know that for many, the startup ideal to look to is Silicon Valley.

Some of the most influential tech companies in the world were born there. From there, they expanded their reach globally. Apple, Google and Facebook are just a few of the tech-savvy and money-making companies to emerge from that region.

As China rose in prominence in the tech sector, there came more stories of giants like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu growing beyond China and impacting the world. Out of Japan rose the powerhouse Softbank, with finger in a myriad of investment pies, under the leadership of the Masayoshi Son.

Now SEA has our own giant to look up to.

The possibility of homegrown ride-hailing startup Grab acquiring Uber’s Southeast Asia operations has been rumoured for a while.

It wasn’t so much of a surprise when the news was officially announced today, but what it means for our local startup ecosystem is a lot more than just one less ride-hailing app in the region.

Grab’s acquisition of Uber shows us that a local, homegrown startup can beat and has beaten a Silicon Valley giant at its own game.

We no longer need to just look to Silicon Valley or China for inspiration. Inspiration can be found in our own backyard.

Founded in 2012 as MyTeksi, Grab started out to make taxis in KL safer.

Since then, it’s expanded its operations beyond ride-hailing to include fintech and food delivery. These multi-pronged arms of expansion and expertise mirror what we’ve seen in other startups as they prepared themselves for global domination.

The difference is, Grab is expanding outwards while being headquartered here in SEA.

Why is it a big deal that a unicorn from SEA has dominated a global company?

One, it tells us that SEA startups are already on the same playing field as Silicon Valley startups. We may even have an advantage when we’re playing on home ground.

Two, it also tells us that we have the potential to grow beyond just our shores. We can reach the world, just by being good at what we’re doing regionally first. Big dreams don’t have to start in Silicon Valley—they can flourish here too.

With Grab leading the charge, we can probably start seeing other local startups with similar ambitions.

In fact, it’s already happening.

Singaporean startup oBike is already active in over 20 countries, Min-Liang Tan of Razer recently joined the Forbes billionaire list, Malaysian startup dahmakan flexed its own muscles with an acquisition-expansion to Thailand, and Carsome recently got funding to strengthen its presence in 4 countries around SEA.

Grab’s acquisition marks a major milestone for startups in this region, and is a clear sign that our local startup community is one to keep an eye on.

We fully expect to see more success stories emerge as the ecosystem matures, and look forward to reporting on those businesses and the entrepreneurs behind them.

  • Read more about what to expect from Grab’s acquisition of Uber here

 

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