SINGAPORE: Mr Anthony Tan, the co-founder and CEO of multi-hyphenate company Grab, admitted in an interview earlier this year that he was born into privilege. However, when it comes to oneupmanship with his rivals, he says he can brawl with the best of them.
The best example is perhaps what happened with Uber in South East Asia. Grab and Uber went head-to-head in many parts of the region some years ago until Grab went ahead in 2018 and acquired Uber’s South East Asian operations in the largest-ever deal at the time.
Uber received no cash from the transaction, getting a 27.5 per cent stake in Grab, and its CEO, Mr Dara Khosrowshahi, joined Grab’s Board of Directors instead.
In an interview with TIME magazine, published on Aug 20, Mr Tan explains how being hyper-local in focus gave Grab the edge over Uber.
“I remember when we were competing against Uber—and Dara [Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO] is my boy, I have mad respect—he said, ‘What differentiates you from us?’ at an Uber town hall in San Francisco. You know, we fought for many years, we bought them. I said, ‘when you guys launched, Uber Ice Cream—so cool. But imagine here [in the heat] with ice cream in a car. You put ice cream in a car, it arrives within seven minutes. You are going to have many flavors in the trunk of the car.’”
He then said that, compared with Uber, Grab started GrabDurian, adding that he knew the fruit well because his father had a durian estate.
“What we did was we launched GrabDurian. The king of fruit—we are very proud of our durian. We sell 30 to 40 tonnes. Before we even started food, we started it as a marketing campaign. The best part is—no smell.
[It’s in a] sealed bag. Your car is clean. It comes super fast. And everyone in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, you name it, everybody loves durian.
That’s the local understanding. Ice cream is a global thing, durian is a Southeast Asian thing. How do I know durian? My father had a durian estate. I used to go and pick durians for him.” /TISG