One of Southeast Asia’s most prominent female entrepreneurs is stepping down from her operational role at Grab, Ride-hailing giant She helped find it more than a decade ago.
Former chief operating officer Tan Hooi Ling, who currently leads the company’s technology and corporate strategy teams, will transition to an advisory role by the end of the year, the company said on Thursday. She will also give up her seat on the board.
Her departure leaves Grab chief executive Anthony Tan with the daunting task of reversing years of losses amid an increasingly competitive ride-hailing and food-delivery market, all of which could not have been done without the Grab CEO, who was named in 2012. Help from the women who helped him co-found the company.
“Grab has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. The impact we create is a reflection of who we are as a team and I am honored to be building something that improves lives in South East Asia alongside Anthony and many other great Grabbers who share the same values and work ethic , ” a statement from the company quoted Tan Hooi Ling as saying.
After two unrelated Tans from Malaysia founded a ride-hailing company, Grab quickly soared to become Southeast Asia’s most valuable private company. It bought Uber’s Southeast Asia business in 2018 and has since expanded into a variety of other services, including food delivery, digital payments and even financial services.
But Grab faces stiff competition from rivals in Southeast Asia, including Singapore’s Sea Ltd, Indonesia’s GoTo Group and Berlin-based Delivery Hero’s Foodpanda.
Unlike some rivals, Grab has avoided mass layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, posting an annual loss of $1.74 billion in 2022. That’s a 51% decrease from the previous year, according to its data annual report.
In 2021, the company will merge with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by Altimeter Capital, a deal that would pave the way for Grab to list in New York at a valuation of nearly $40 billion.
Before that, Grab had heavyweight backers including Japan’s SoftBank
(SFTBF) and Chinese ride-hailing startup Didi Chuxing.