Microsoft invests in Grab to drive Southeast Asia’s digital ecosystem

The race amongst SEA’s tech giants to get their hands on advanced technologies.

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Microsoft invests in Grab to drive Southeast Asia’s digital ecosystem

Southeast Asian ride-hailing behemoth Grab has been on a funding spree recently. In the wake of last week’s news that SoftBank is pouring US$500 million into the company as part of Grab’s $1 billion latest funding, Microsoft announced, on Tuesday, that it’s making an undisclosed amount of strategic investment into the Singapore-based company.

In addition to the investment, the two companies are also kickstarting a 5-years strategic partnership to collaborate at transforming the delivery of digital services and mobility in the Southeast Asia region. While the exact amount was not disclosed, people close to the matter told FT that Microsoft invested around $200m for this deal.

”As a global technology leader, Microsoft’s investment into Grab highlights our position as the leading homegrown technology player in the region. We look forward to collaborating with Microsoft in the pursuit of enhancing on-demand transportation and seamless online-to-offline (O2O) experiences for users,” says the president of Grab Ming Maa in its press release.

This move will see Grab onboarding Microsoft Azure – Microsoft’s cloud platform – to scale Grab’s wide array of services efficiently and effectively. Other intended plans include working on new authentication mechanisms like mobile facial recognition to strengthen the security procedures of Grab’s ride-hailing services; creating an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot via Microsoft’s natural language processing (NLP); experiment ways to leverage on Microsoft’s machine learning technology improve the map creation and quality.

This latest development also comes at a time when both US and Chinese tech mammoths are looking at expanding into emerging markets such as Southeast Asia. Microsoft’s investment in Grab – an O2O platform that serves 235 cities across eight Southeast Asia countries – is a clear indicator of the growing interest amongst them at the burgeoning opportunities in the region where technologies are used to transform the lives of the people.

Microsoft had earlier invested in Uber back in 2015 and partnered India’s Ola in 2017 – all with the intention of building stronger relationships with entities that Microsoft is looking to do business with. Grab’s adoption of Microsoft’s cloud, in fact, reflects Microsoft’s earlier deal with Ola.

Editor: Ben Jiang