For Some Platforms, Network Effects Are No Match for Local Know-How

Howard Yu on global companies adapting to local contexts

When is it possible for David to beat Goliath in the platform economy? On March 25 mighty Uber bowed out of Southeast Asia by selling its operation in several countries to local rival Grab. The news came as a surprise to many observers. Grab, which launched its service in 2012 with 40 drivers in Malaysia, came late to the ride-hailing game, only after Uber had established a formidable position in the United States. Three months after the sale, in June 2018, Toyota decided to pour $1 billion into Grab, in a bid to expand other offerings in the region including food delivery and electronic payments.

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