Despite the global economic downturn, the Southeast Asia tech startup ecosystem has continued its stellar growth. This time, the big story is in the form of Grab Nasdaq listings, making headlines in Southeast Asia and around the world as they become the first publicly listed company in the region. This listing marks the high point for the company that started nine years ago as a taxi-hailing service in Malaysia. This debut will likely affect the development of other tech startups in the region immensely. 

Who is Grab?

Grab is Southeast Asia’s largest startup and has expanded from ride-hailing into many other industries, including food delivery, insurance, investment and payment service products. This extension of services has been coupled with physical expansion, and they now operate in 465 cities across eight different countries in the Southeast Asian region. 


We take a closer look at Grab’s $40 billion SPAC deal and what it means for Southeast Asia


The unicorn product is now considered a ‘super-app’, with its user count of over 670 million and offering a plethora of services. Grab and Nasdaq hosted a bell-ringing ceremony with roughly 250 people, a mix of investors, partners and executives to mark the company’s listing.

Grab’s Nasdaq debut

Thanks to a backdoor listing, Grab was able to make its market debut with a record-breaking US$40 billion merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). This listing will undoubtedly set a baseline for how other companies in the region can make their debut onto the Nasdaq. 

The CEO of Grab, Tan Hooi Ling, stated that Grab has shown the world homegrown companies can compete globally. The debut shines the spotlight on the wide range of exciting and innovative startups currently coming out of Southeast Asia. As of December 2nd, 2021, Grab is now public on Nasdaq under the ticker ‘GRAB’. 

How will it affect other startups?

Of course, Grab is not without its rivals. Indonesia’s GoTo Group has recently secured $1.3 billion USD in its first close of pre-IPO funding. The GoTo Group is the result of a merger of Gojek and Tokopedia, and together, they have become another super-app. This new conglomerate also offers a plethora of services, many of which are in the same vein as Grab. 

Despite being rivals, they may also benefit from Grab’s debut as further attention turns towards the region. As a result, it may be possible for many larger companies, such as GoTo, to make similar deals and acquire comparable funding, ultimately allowing them to become publicly listed too. 

Grab’s listing will help showcase the opportunity available to investors in Southeast Asia, an area with a population of about 650 million. The region also has a very young demographic with a median age of 30.2 years of age, meaning that there are many young, tech-savvy people chomping at the bit to bring their ideas to the world stage. Thanks to Grab, their chance might come sooner than expected. These factors, combined with the many governments in the region fostering the growth of their startups, especially in the tech sector, means there will be dozens of promising investments appearing out of the woodwork in the near future. 

The region’s internet economy is already likely to double to roughly $360 billion USD by 2025. However, thanks to Grab’s progression, it is entirely possible that this figure will need to be revised as more and more businesses make it to the global stage. It will not be a surprise when more and more investors turn their attention to this region in the hopes of fostering more Nasdaq listed companies. 

Capping off Grab’s meteoric rise from a ride-hailing service in Malaysia to a super-app giant spanning eight countries and 465 cities, it has become the first publicly listed company in the Southeast Asia tech startup ecosystem. With such a move coming right at the end of the year, many rival companies may seek to start next year off with a bang in an attempt to attract investors and opportunities. Thanks to Grab and the interest their floating that New York has created, it will most likely lead to more plentiful opportunities as more companies look to partner or invest in the nascent startup scene of the region. 

The Grab Nasdaq listing will inspire more venture capital firms, private investors and SPACs to seek the region’s next potential unicorns to invest in and move towards public listing. This increased interest and possible funding will be good for companies already founded and trying to grow, but it will also spark more new entrepreneurs to come forward and bring their ideas to the table. The startup ecosystem in the region is poised to continue enjoying its growth period unabashedly as Southeast Asia takes its place in an increasingly digital world.