Microsoft Invests Into Asian Ride Hailing Firm Grab

Microsoft has announced the signing of a five-year agreement with Grab, a ride-hailing company that is based in Southeast Asia. The said agreement opens up a collaboration on big technology projects, which will include the software company taking a strategic stake in the business.

The valuation of the said stake was not disclosed by either of the companies.

The deal will have Grab work with Microsoft on the exploration of artificial intelligence, facial recognition, computer vision technologies, and image recognition. In time, the customers will be given the ability to carry out certain tasks such as taking a photo of their location and having that translate into an actual address for the driver who will be picking them up.

According to a joint statement, Grab will now be using a number of products of Microsoft, including the Azure cloud computing service.

Previously, Grab said that it was planning to raise fresh investment amounting to approximately $3 billion (£2.3 billion) by the end of this year.

So far this year, Grab was already able to raise $2 billion from Toyota and some institutional investors. According to CB Insights, it had raised approximately $6 billion in total funds as of the 2nd of August 2018, and is valued at $11 billion.

Some sources told Reuters that Softbank is also in talks with the company to contribute an additional $500 million to its existing investment in Grab.

Grab is operating in 235 cities across eight countries in Southeast Asia. Go-Jek, a fellow startup, is considered as its largest competitor in the region.

In an interview with CNBC, the executive vice president of Microsoft, Peggy Johnson, stated: “We’re fascinated with the companies that are emerging from Southeast Asia.

“It’s been amazing to watch what they have done with technology, in the way that they’ve applied it to solving problems for their customers.”