Digerati50: The first unicorn

Source from Digital News Asia

By Goh Thean Eu | Jul 01, 2016

Digital News Asia (DNA) continues its weekly series that profiles the top 50 influencers, movers and shakers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, from Digerati50 Vol 2, a special print publication released in February 2016. To download a special e-reader version, see the top of this page. For information on customised reprints of Digerati50, email


  • Industry observers put Grab’s valuation north of US$1.5bil
  • ‘Find the bigger purpose and hold true to it’

IF one were to list the most successful entrepreneurs in South-East Asia, Grab cofounder Anthony Tan will definitely feature prominently.

In just about three years, he has managed to grow Grab – via its flagship GrabTaxi taxi-hailing service of the same name, as well as complementary services like GrabCar, GrabBike and GrabExpress – into one of the leading transport brands in the region.

He also successfully secured round after round of funding, totalling about US$700 million to date. While Grab has not publicly disclosed its valuation, industry observers believe it would be north of US$1.5 billion – definitely a ‘unicorn’ in startup parlance.

In contrast, Tan Chong Motors, the assembler and sole distributor of Nissan cars in Malaysia founded by Anthony’s grandfather, has a market capitalisation of US$390 million (RM1.7 billion).

Throughout its meteoric growth and the seemingly never-ending series of new services, Grab has never strayed from its vision, Anthony stresses.

“Our objective has never wavered from generating both business and social value, in line with the company’s principles of driving positive change and making people’s lives better,” he declares.

The success Anthony has achieved with Grab has not only inspired other entrepreneurs, it has made him a role model to young people.

“I am heartened and encouraged, of course, to be viewed as a role model,” he says.

“I think beyond that, I want to share with youth who may be looking at me and my company as sources of inspiration, that success will come if you focus on meeting a real community need and creating social value,” he says.

“I measure my personal success by how much I am able to help serve and meet the needs of people around me.”

The journey to the top has been fraught with challenges, however. Anthony recalls the early days in 2012 when Grab – then known as MyTeksi – had just been founded….

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