Microsoft is investing in Southeast Asian ride-hailing company Grab and will help Grab develop facial recognition tech

GrabMing Maa, President of Grab shakes hands with Peggy Johnson Executive Vice President of Business Development, Microsoft
  • Microsoft announced it would invest an undisclosed amount in the Singapore-based ride-hailing service, Grab.
  • The Financial Times reported Microsoft’s investment would total around $US200 million and put Grab’s valuation “closer to $US12 billion.”
  • As part of that agreement, Grab agreed to use Microsoft’s cloud, Azure.
  • Microsoft will also work with Grab on software projects like facial recognition that help drivers and passengers recognise each other and real-time translation services.

Microsoft announced late Monday that it would invest an undisclosed amount in the Singapore-based ride-hailing service, Grab, as part of a strategic deal.

The Financial Times reported, citing unnamed sources, that Microsoft’s investment totaled around $US200 million, although a Grab spokesperson refuted the accuracy of that amount, without clarifying to Business Insider if that amount was too high or too low.

However, the total deal also includes Grab using Microsoft’s cloud services, Azure, as the ride-hailing company’s “preferred” cloud platform, so the partnership is not simply a cash infusion.

In addition to bringing Grab onto the Azure cloud, the companies will also work together on software projects like real-time translation services and facial recognition that will help passengers and drivers recognise each other.

The investment is Microsoft’s first in the Southeast Asia ride-hailing market.

“This partnership signals a deep collaboration with Microsoft on an array of technology projects, including big data and artificial intelligence, that will transform the delivery of everyday services and mobility solutions in Southeast Asia,” Ming Maa, president of Grab, said in a statement.

“Grab is uniquely positioned to drive innovation in a market and industry that’s ripe with opportunity,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement, in part. “We see great potential in Grab as an innovative tech player in the region, and look forward to partnering with them on a part of the advancement and adoption of digital services across Southeast Asia.”

Microsoft does have a history of investing and partnering with ride-sharing services. The company invested in Uber in 2015 and in 2017, it began working with India’s Ola to build a connected-car platform and power in-car entertainment via it’s Azure cloud-computing service.

On Friday, Reuters reported that Japan’s SoftBank was set to invest around $US500 million in Grab in the coming weeks.

Investments from both Microsoft and Softbank would put Grab’s total amount raised at $US6.7 billion and its valuation “closer to $US12 billion,” sources told The Financial Times.

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