Uber rival Grab quietly backed dock-less bike service oBike

Grab, Uber’s main rival in Southeast Asia, has made a move into dock-less bikes after the company quietly backed oBike.

Singapore-based Grab invested in oBike — which was started in Singapore by Chinese founders and is present in 30 cities — as part of a $45 million Series B round that was announced in August, a source with knowledge of the deal told TechCrunch. Grab’s name was not publicly announced at the time.

oBike previously declined to reveal the full spectrum of investors in the Series A deal. The company declined to comment in response to a fresh request for confirmation of Grab’s involvement.

A Grab spokesperson declined to comment when contacted for confirmation of its investment in oBike.

While this deal is not as significant as Grab’s recent $80-$100 million acquisition of Indonesia-based startup Kudos, which is helping it build out its GrabPay financial services platform, it does bring intrigue.

That’s primarily because oBike competes directly with Ofo, a multi-billion dollar China-based startup that is backed by Didi Chuxing among others. Didi is, of course, a long-term investor in Grab itself which throws up some interesting dynamics.

That’s just another wrinkle in an industry that already includes a number of complicated relationships. Didi is an investor in Uber — via its acquisition of the Uber China business — while  SoftBank, another loyal Grab backer which recently invested $2 billion alongside Didi, is said to be closed to landing an investment in Uber.

It isn’t clear what Grab’s immediate goal from the oBike investment is. Didi integrated Ofo’s bike service into its main app earlier this year, so it could be that Grab follows suit in Singapore. It may also use its business across eight markets in Southeast Asia to help oBike expand its presence in the region.