- Anthony Tan is the cofounder of Grab, a ride-hailing company with 25 million monthly users.
- Grab is based in Singapore, and it now offers a variety of services beyond car rides.
- Tan, a father of four, starts his day a 6 a.m. and has an early, hour-long dinner with his family every night.
The ride-hailing app grew to rival Uber in Southeast Asia and eventually pushed it out of the region in 2018.
Now headquartered in Singapore, Grab aims to be a super app that offers anything from insurance to grocery deliveries to courier services. Grab has almost 25 million monthly users, the company said, and around 7,000 employees, based on figures it released.
With Tan, 39, at the helm, Grab is also looking to go public in the US at a $US40 ($AU55) billion valuation.
The tech CEO is famous for optimizing his schedule for maximum efficiency, such as by taking calls on the treadmill, and has been quoted saying he doesn’t have time to watch movies.
Here’s a look at how Tan gets it all done in a day.
Then he spends some time playing and cuddling with his four kids. “They’re still in the phase where their parents are superheroes, which I savor all I can,” said Tan.
At 7 a.m., he goes to the gym, sometimes with his wife, Chloe.
He lives in Singapore, where pandemic restrictions are still gradually being eased. Staying home because of COVID-19 has given Tan more time to spend with his family, he said, but it also means his schedule is more crammed with Zoom meetings.
Tan works at home from a standing desk is right next to his kids’ playroom. It also faces his living room, where there’s a mini kids’ gym. His workspace placement is intentional because he wants to be able to see his children while he works.
And he’s got no qualms about his kids making noise during his meetings. “My colleagues are used to this,” he said.
“We usually do these calls during our monthly business review meetings, but with the Delta variant of Covid, we’ve had to hold more regular calls for now as we respond to the growing number of cases across the region,” said Tan.
He uses the lunch meeting to get feedback from Wee on Grab’s food delivery service as their companies work through Singapore’s social distancing measures. Singapore, a country of around 5.45 million people, on Monday raised the number of people allowed at social gatherings from two to five but many restaurants are still struggling.
Tan likes taking work lunches, he said, whether with business partners or during one-on-ones with his staff, because there’s “nothing like bonding over food.”
On the call with him is Hsieh Fu Hua, the board director of GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.
“Board meetings are not stuffy events, unlike what one might see on TV. There’s usually good energy, and we cover a lot of territory in each session, such as strategy, governance, budgeting, talent, and marketing,” Tan said.
He said he comes from a traditional Chinese family and likes “hot and hearty soups,” but is trying out different types of cuisines.
Tan discusses several business ventures with his team, like a Food Priority Delivery service where users can pay extra to get their meals faster. If their food arrives late, they get a voucher. Tan said it’s like a service guarantee for Grab’s food delivery.
Then, Tan and his wife Chloe go through some pointers he learned from the leadership seminar earlier. Today, the takeaway points focused on the six fundamental motivations for people’s behavior.
Life as a CEO has meant that Tan gets to spend less time with his family than he would like. A silver lining of the travel restrictions during the last two years is that he’s been at home more, he said.
“I go through plans for the next couple of hours. The extra quiet allows me to focus and do some deep work,” Tan said.
“It’s important to get culture right,” Tan said. “Dalio talks about how we should create a culture where it’s okay to make mistakes, but not okay not to learn from them.”
By now, the house is quiet. Tan spends a few minutes finishing up his book, and then retires for the night.