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Gen AI and cloud optimization help Asian SuperApp Grab turn a profit

Grab, the Singapore-based superapp, achieved a significant milestone by recording its first-ever positive net profit. Anthony Tan, the co-founder and CEO, expressed his excitement about Grab’s performance in 2023 and highlighted the key factors behind this success.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Grab reported a net profit of $11 million, a substantial improvement compared to the previous year’s loss of $391 million. This turnaround was attributed to a strategic reduction in cloud costs by 32% through optimization efforts, along with a decrease in total headcount by 18%.

Tan also shared Grab’s adoption of generative AI, which played a crucial role in boosting efficiency and productivity. The development of an in-house marketing tool powered by advanced LLM technology significantly reduced content generation time from 99 hours to just 90 minutes. This innovation resulted in higher-quality output and increased click-through rates.

Regarding Grab’s response to market changes, Tan mentioned the layoffs in June 2023 as part of the company’s efforts to remain adaptable. He emphasized the importance of generative AI in enabling cost-effective operations while allowing for reinvestment in technology to drive long-term growth.

Grab’s positive performance extended beyond net profit, with quarterly revenue rising by 30% year-on-year to $653 million. The deliveries segment was the top revenue generator, experiencing a 20% growth to $321 million, while mobility services also saw a significant increase to $237 million.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Grab’s mobility business rebounded strongly, surpassing pre-COVID levels through targeted product investments and addressing changing traveler needs.

In a show of confidence, Grab announced a buyback program to repurchase up to $500 million in class A ordinary shares, indicating optimism about its share price. Amid rumors of potential mergers with competitors like GoTo and potential acquisitions such as FoodPanda, Grab remains committed to driving sustainable growth and innovation in the competitive superapp industry.

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