Grab, one of the leading ride-hailing and food delivery companies in Southeast Asia, is reportedly planning a significant round of layoffs, which would be its largest reduction in workforce since the start of the pandemic. The company is facing intensified competition in the region’s ride-hailing and meal delivery sectors, particularly from its rival, GoTo group, based in Indonesia. GoTo’s shares have experienced a decline of approximately 70 per cent since its stock-market debut in late 2021. While the exact number of layoffs has not been disclosed, it is expected to surpass the previous year’s layoffs of around 360 employees, which accounted for approximately 5 per cent of Grab’s staff.
These layoffs indicate that Grab is yielding to investor pressure to accelerate cost reductions, as it has been slower compared to competitors like GoTo and Sea in cutting expenses. Both GoTo and Sea undertook significant layoffs in the previous year. Despite Grab’s efforts to capitalise on the recovery in mobility demand, optimise costs, reduce the cost-to-serve, and innovate its products and services to enhance customer loyalty and engagement, the company is still encountering challenges.
In addition to the layoffs, Grab’s co-founder, Tan Hooi Ling, has announced her decision to step down from her operational roles within the company. By the end of the year, she will transition into an advisory position and will also relinquish her seat on Grab’s board of directors, a position she has held since the company went public in December 2021. Tan, who co-founded Grab in 2012 with Anthony Tan, the group CEO, has held various positions within the company, including COO.
Currently leading Grab’s technology organisation, she mentors promising technology leaders within the company, such as Suthen Thomas, Grab’s group chief technology officer, and Philipp Kandal, its chief product officer.