a sign on the ground

Call me crazy, but the entire point of Uber is having one point of contact for your ride needs, anywhere in the world. I don’t want to learn about the newest apps, or the “Uber” of Lithuania or anything of the sort. I just want to have the one trusty app to fire up, and grab a ride with the credit card and other details already filled in. That feat will now become increasingly hard, as Uber retreats from multiple major markets.

a building with a tower and boats in front of itUber Exits Eight Countries

There’s widespread speculation that Uber is selling off it’s less profitable foreign businesses in anticipation of an initial public offering. Uber has just officially pulled out of Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Myanmar – selling its business to popular regional ride sharing app Grab. Why do you care? Because the Uber app will no longer work in any of these countries. If you need a ride, you’ll need to “grab” the Grab app, or another ride platform.

Uber Picking Up Investments

Launching such a large scale business in competitive foreign markets is no easy feat. Rather than continue to hemorrhage money in Asia, as was the case in China – where Uber was estimated to be losing 1bn a year, Uber will now pick up a 27% stake in ride sharing platform Grab. This will see Uber’s exit from the region coupled with a 27% stake in a company with a 6bn valuation. Grab has 86 million app downloads and operates in 190 Southeast Asian cities.

Good For Business, But

In China, it’s Didi – in Southeast Asia it’s Grab, in India it’s Ola. Uber sought to disrupt the taxi business by offering a streamlined approach from anywhere in the world – yet it now feels as if we’re headed back to a time when you needed to learn about the local firms to get anywhere. It may be an “app” instead of a phone number, but “hail a ride anywhere” now comes with asterisks. Ground transportation to a growing number of countries will once again require research, rather than simplicity. You could say Uber was globalism gone mad, but it worked really well for its users.

How do you feel about Uber pulling out of popular markets?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I have a couple of ride credits from Thailand and Indonesia due to ordering an Uber but not connecting with the driver. They better credit card!

  2. I agree totally. The app is increasingly frustrating for a person who travels often. One of the HUGE advantages of Uber was being able to use it in much of the world and that is certainly no longer the case. They also recently pulled out of Russia which is a big loss, as they were a far safer option to local taxis in Moscow.

    What boggles my mind is that they now hold stakes in Grab and Didi but they can’t manage (or even propose) to link payment systems and allow you to use the Uber app to hail these services. Complex I am sure, but there has got to be a way to structure Uber “operated by” Grab or something for when you are in SE Asia.

    Otherwise Uber is losing a big advantage since you can basically only use it in US and Western Europe at this stage.

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