Fresh from a strategic investment from Microsoft, Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing leader Grab is back in the money again after it closed $200 million in fresh capital from Booking Holdings, the travel firm formerly known as Priceline.
The investment is part of an ongoing round of funding that Grab said is on course to reach $3 billion before the end of the year. Grab raised $2 billion for the round — including a $1 billion check from Totoya — but it continues to add strategic partners, like Microsoft and Booking. Grab — which bought Uber’s regional business in March and is present in eight countries — is valued at $11 billion and we understand that hasn’t changed with this round.
The deal — which mimics Booking’s recent $500 million investment in China’s Didi — will lead to the two companies team up to offer reciprocal services. That’ll see Grab’s transportation services integrated into Booking’s apps and services with support for Grab Pay. On the other side, Grab said that Booking’s travel accommodation services will come to its app sometime in 2019, although Grab customers in “multiple markets” will get rewards and offers in the app before the end of this year.
Besides Booking.com and Agoda, Booking also operates Kayak, Priceline.com, Rentacars.com and OpenTable. The firm rebranded from Priceline in February 2018.
The tie-in makes sense on both sides. Ride-hailing services are a prime channel for travel companies — Didi and Grab both dominate their respective markets, Grab claims over 110 million downloads — while the idea of pre-ordering a Grab to meet you after a flight has landed, or having one take you to your hotel will be logical for many.
Grab started out offering taxis, but it has since expanded to private car vehicles, motorbikes and a range of non-transportation services that include payments and food delivery. In addition, the company opened its platform to third-parties this summer in an effort to develop a ‘super app’ for Southeast Asia’s rapidly growing internet population, which is already larger than the entire U.S. population.
It hasn’t all been plain-sailing for Grab in its post-Uber world. Both Uber and Grab were fined a collective $9.5 million by Singapore’s watchdog for the merger — they got a lighter rap on the knuckles in the Philippines — while some users have complained about a bloated app, inferior service quality and higher fees in recent months. Grab disputes the latter claim that it has increased prices, but it has pledged to do better by its customers.
Grab’s chief rival is Indonesia Go-Jek, which is said to be raising $2 billion more to support a regional expansion plan. Go-Jek has already moved into Vietnam and Thailand, while this week it opened sign-ups for drivers in Singapore.