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Grab, GoJek, Didi and why it's hard to find winners in the few really successful EMs

Ben Paul
Ben Paul2/18/2019 8:0 AM GMT+08  • 10 min read
Grab, GoJek, Didi and why it's hard to find winners in the few really successful EMs
SINGAPORE (Feb 18): They say there is no such thing as bad publicity. For GoJek, at least, the recent altercation between one of its drivers and a female passenger, who turned the phrase “Is it because I’m Chinese?” into a popular meme, has arguably
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SINGAPORE (Feb 18): They say there is no such thing as bad publicity. For GoJek, at least, the recent altercation between one of its drivers and a female passenger, who turned the phrase “Is it because I’m Chinese?” into a popular meme, has arguably done more to promote its brand than any carefully crafted marketing plan could have.

More than a fortnight after the whole incident, many people are still making jokes at the expense of the passenger, who accused her driver of being “out to cheat [her] money” by taking a route that included Electronic Road Pricing gantries, and kidnap her when he drove to a police station to resolve the dispute in a car with doors that lock automatically. On the other hand, the driver seemed to display remarkable grace under fire, though some question whether he should have shared his video recording of the whole argument online.

Whatever happens next, the incident has helped GoJek get a running start in building awareness of its presence in Singapore, a place where ride-hailing apps are no longer a novelty. Grab and Uber spent more than three years battling each other here, offering commuters as well as drivers all manner of incentives. In the process, they grew the market tremendously. There were reportedly twice as many private-hire cars than taxis on the road in Singapore last year.

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