Grab: Discovering New Frontiers for Growth in the Southeast Asian Sharing Economy

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Launched in 2012, Grab began in Malaysia as a third-party e-hailing taxi dispatching mobile application. The company expanded at a remarkable speed and by 2015, the app had been downloaded more than 4.4 million times, averaging seven bookings per second. A year later the app had over 13 million downloads, serving 30 cities across six countries in Southeast Asia. The app’s functionality too had expanded to include an array of locally suited transportation booking options beyond just taxi services, such as car-pooling, ride-sharing, private vehicle hire and more.

Valued at about US$1.5 billion in 2016, Grab was one of Asia’s most successful start-ups. The company’s business model was aligned with its social mission to improve the safety and accessibility of transportation, along with improving the lives of its passengers, drivers and the community. End-users benefited through improved transportation options, where safety, certainty and speed were guiding principles of the company.

However, long-term success was far from guaranteed. Technological and social change was always afoot. The sharing economy, of which Grab was a part, was hyper-local, social and mobile – and above all – extremely competitive. Uber, its main rival, was a larger, technologically savvy global player offering nearly identical services in the region. However, Grab’s local roots could prove to be a competitive advantage in navigating Southeast Asia’s many complicated and highly fragmented markets, which faced significant regulatory uncertainty in the on-demand transportation industry.

In this case, students will analyse Grab’s competitive position and recommend a strategy to strengthen that position and create new business opportunities.


Booking, Bottom of the Pyramid, competition, customer-stickiness, demand management, Ecosystem, fragmented, Grab, Information Systems, integration, Market Entry, mobile app, new business opportunity, on-demand, Partnerships, Positioning, private vehicle-hire, regulations, regulatory uncertainty, ride-sharing, Scalability, sharing economy, social good, social mobile local, Start-Up, strategy, technology, transportation network company, Triple Bottom Line, Uber, unicorn, venture capital


Asian Studies | International Business | Management Information Systems | Strategic Management Policy | Technology and Innovation

Data Source

Published Sources



Geographic Coverage

Southeast Asia

Temporal Coverage


Education Level

Executive Education; Postgraduate; Undergraduate


Singapore Management University

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