Japanse telecom firm SoftBank Corp has invested $250 million in the Southeast Asian taxi hailing app GrabTaxi Holdings.
The investment marks Softbank's largest venture in an internet-based company in Southeast Asia and will help it become the largest shareholder in GrabTaxi.
GrabTaxi is a ride-sharing app like Uber, which operates in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.
The company has managed to raise $340 million in the past 14 months and will use the fresh flow of cash to expand business in other regions, it said in a statement.
"We will do whatever it takes to ensure that we maintain our leadership in an ethical and moral way. It's a fight for market share. We're many many times bigger than our closest competitors and we intend to grow that fast," Anthony Tan, founder and CEO of GrabTaxi told Bloomberg.
GrabTaxi's growth has indeed been impressive. Its user base expanded to 500,000 in a month's time, a six-fold increase from a year ago. It also gets three taxi bookings every second.
"In two short years, GrabTaxi has become the dominant player in Southeast Asia's mobile taxi booking industry, which is a testament to Anthony's outstanding leadership. We look forward to working with his talented team and supporting GrabTaxi's further expansion in the region," Nikesh Arora, vice chairman of SoftBank Corp said in a statement.
Taxi booking apps have gained lot of popularity around the world.
In the Southeast asian region, traffic issues have made it hard to avail a cab instantly. Therefore, apps like GrabTaxi, Uber and Lyft have become moneymakers overnight.
Stiff competition in the market is making it a "controversy brewing ground" for these companies. Uber was recently embroiled in a stalking scandal after one of its top management members made hostile comments towards journalists.
And that's not limited to the Western markets.
Even in Southeast Asia, many startups who are trying their hand at this lucrative business are facing the twin challenges of safety and punctuality.
However, GrabTaxi hopes to avoid the pitfalls and scale up to a larger, more respectable platform by abiding by its core values.
"There are a lot of well-run startups in Southeast Asia. We hope that the values we've been pushing for — helping drivers make more money, women feel safer and more — and changing the current ecosystem and how we treat each other makes a difference," Tan told TechCrunch.