Singapore’s on-demand taxi service and Uber’s biggest rival in South East Asia, Grab, has started laying roots in India. It will start with a research and development (R&D) facility in Bengaluru. The company has already hired two employees in India over the last month. Another 198 could be employed within the next year, according to one person closely associated with the company. An official announcement is imminent.

Grab’s India operations may be headed by Arul Kumaravel, vice president of engineering. He, however, will not be relocating to India just yet. Kumaravel joined in 2015 when the previous Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Wei Zhu quit. He is the de facto CTO at Grab, which he joined after leaving Amazon.

According to sources, almost 90% of the employees hired in India will be working on Grab’s payments platform. The other 10% will be working on the company’s core strength: cab hailing. Last month, it was announced that Grab was set to acquire an Indonesian payment firm—Kudo—for a reported $100 million to strengthen its closed loop wallet: GrabPay. The wallet, however, according to insiders, “isn’t in the best shape”. And the majority of the hires in Bengaluru will work on improving the user interface and functionality of the payment instrument.

It helps that this is a good time for Grab to be hiring. Several Indian startups have faced massive churn and retrenchment.

India’s cab-hailing market was valued at $1.7 billion in 2016, according to RedSeer Management Consulting, a research and advisory firm. Uber and Ola, according to the advisory firm in a separate research report, provided a combined 500 million rides in 2016. While Grab is not launching its cab business in India just yet, its presence could hint at a possible entry eventually. It might be good news for customers as another price war may be around the corner. It also means that Ola and Uber will have to be alert for another well-funded company entering the market.

Source: Ministry of Corporate Affairs

Why India?

Reducing employee costs is one of the primary considerations for a move to India. Bengaluru gives it access to talent. Cheaper talent. Grab, currently, operates in 39 cities—across Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. And the engineering potential in those geographies is far inferior to what India offers. This facility will give Grab the opportunity to expand to new cities and countries without spending too much on recruitment. While recruitment is its first reason for the India adventure, keeping an eye on Uber is another reason.

Its biggest rival, Uber, has been ramping up its Hyderabad R&D facility; it planned to increase the headcount to 500 by the end of 2016. The research at this facility is translated to markets across the world.

AUTHOR

Patanjali Pahwa

Patanjali has spent over seven years in journalism. He last worked at Business Standard as Principal Correspondent, where he wrote on startups, e-commerce companies and venture capital. He has worked at an array of institutions, which include Forbes India, Caravan and Outlook Business. He is a Mumbaikar, born and brought up. Patanjali did his BSc in IT from Mumbai University and then got his journalism degree from IIJNM in Bangalore. He is enamoured by Ernest Hemingway and Tom Waits and may try to sneak in references to them in his stories.

View Full Profile

Subscribe to read this story

The Ken is the only business subscription you need. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at [email protected] with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.