Grab's headcount to hit 3,000 by next year

(From left) Ascendas Fund Management chief executive officer William Tay, JTC CEO Ng Lang, Ascendas-Singbridge deputy group CEO Manohar Khiatani, Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat, Grab CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan, Singapore Economic Development
(From left) Ascendas Fund Management chief executive officer William Tay, JTC CEO Ng Lang, Ascendas-Singbridge deputy group CEO Manohar Khiatani, Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat, Grab CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan, Singapore Economic Development Board chairman Beh Swan Gin, Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling and National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicle Association executive adviser Ang Hin Kee breaking ground for the construction of Grab's new headquarters at one-north yesterday.PHOTO: GRAB

Firm starts building new $181m HQ; launches new round of help for start-ups

Ride-hailing firm Grab will see its headcount double to about 3,000 when it opens its new $181.21 million headquarters in the one-north business district by the end of next year.

Located in Media Link, the 42,310 sq m building is intended to replace the firm's existing four offices here.

When completed, it will also house the largest research and development (R&D) centre for Grab, which has such centres in seven cities worldwide including Seattle and Bangalore.

"This year, we will add 1,000 new tech roles across all our R&D centres globally, including data scientists, AI (artificial intelligence) researchers, engineers, designers, and product managers," said Grab chief executive Anthony Tan.

Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for the building, he added the new headquarters is "confirmation of our commitment to invest and serve Singapore for the long term".

He also announced that Grab is launching a second round of its start-up accelerator programme.

Dubbed Grab Ventures Velocity, this year's round will run from June to August and focus on helping farming start-ups as well as small businesses from South-east Asia. Applications close on May 15.

"Grab has been very fortunate, and it is our duty and our obligation to grow other start-ups," said Mr Tan.

The ride-hailing giant, which currently operates in more than 300 cities in eight countries around the region, earlier this month announced it had secured $2 billion in funding from the SoftBank Vision Fund to expand its services.

It also announced on March 20 that it is rolling out credit services and loans as part of its push into the financial services sector.

Speaking at yesterday's event, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that in the digital economy, technology companies such as Grab play an important role in bridging the gap between digital and physical services.

Grab also announced it intends to introduce a public transport planner feature in its app here which users can tap to see travel options, including buses and trains.

This is in addition to the firm's existing private-hire car and taxi services, and follows the introduction of a similar service in Indonesia on Wednesday.

The feature is likely to make its debut here within the next two months, and Grab said it hopes to eventually have users pay for public transport trips using its app as well.

In January, Uber added public transport options to its app in Denver in the United States, as part of a trial with Israeli transit data firm Moovit.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2019, with the headline 'Grab's headcount to hit 3,000 by next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe