If true, it would bring Ma into direct competition with Tencent, while teaming him up with Masayoshi Son
The Singaporean ride-hailing company Grab is reportedly raising a massive US$1.5 billion fundraising round, and if Bloomberg reports are true, they may be adding Asia’s brightest star to the investment pool.
According to a report today in Bloomberg, Jack Ma is considering joining Softbank in its US$1.5 billion funding of the continuing battle for Southeast Asia between Grab, Go-jek and Uber.
A Grab spokesperson told e27 the company will not comment on rumours.
The Bloomberg article was unclear if the money would come from Alibaba or Ant Financial, but if it goes through, Ma would be in direct competition with Tencent. In May, Go-jek reportedly closed a US$1.2 billion round from Tencent.
Grab has been openly focussed on expanding its payments platform, making it a major part of its Indonesia master plan. Bloomberg pointed out than an investment from Ma would bring Alipay into the equation.
Just to make the entire picture complete, Bloomberg reports that China’s Didi Chuxing is considering investment in this round (Didi has already invested in Grab).
Chinese tech giants entering Southeast Asia
One of the major macro-stories of the past year has been the increased investments in Southeast Asian startups by Chinese tech giants.
Besides the Go-jek investment, Tencent also dropped US$54 million into the music app Smule — an American company that has the majority of its users in Southeast Asia.
It also launched a joint-venture with Thailand’s Ookbee in January to grow digital content.
Ma, between Alibaba and Ant Financial, has been in a similar trajectory. Alibaba is reportedly working to partner with Emtek Group in Indonesia and Ant Financial entered the region for the first time in late-2016 with an investment in Ascend Money.
Finally, if the rumours are true, it would bring together possibly the two most famous tech personalities in Asia.
With Softbanks reported involvement, CEO Masayoshi Son would be partnering with Ma; it is difficult to think of a more star-studded duo in Asia than those two.