2017 has proved a tumultuous year for ride-sharing app and transport company Uber. In March of this year the company lost a key legal battle with Transport for London, losing its license to operate in the city, one of its key markets. Only months later the company faced significant legal obstructions in Brazil and while the battle is still ongoing, Uber’s marketing and lobbying efforts in the country seem to be moving things in a more positive direction than the United Kingdom. While one door may have closed, the company is preparing to venture into a new market soon, though whether or not it will pay off remains to be seen.
Taking a cue from its struggles in the Western world, the company has taken a decidedly different approach towards its entry into the Asian market. Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO as of August of this year after founder Travis Kalanick stepped aside in disgrace, has stressed his desire to work with both governments and taxi firms. Over the next decade, Southeast Asia alone is expected to have its ride-sharing market expand to about 30 million customers and $13 billion in profits, so it’s vital for Uber to make concessions if it means gaining ground. The company faces stiff competition in the region from Go-Jek and Grab, who’ve already garnered billions in investment capital thanks to their success.
Uber recently announced new leadership in the Asian market with the reveal that Monika Rudijono is set to take over as president of Uber in Indonesia, a vital foray into the Asian market. Rudijono previously served as a presidential director of Grey, an advertising and marketing firm. Given the role marketing played in rallying support for Uber’s position in Brazil earlier this year, Rudijono’s past experience could prove key in gaining a foothold in Indonesia.
Current projections expect Indonesia to account for 40 percent of the ride-sharing market for all of Southeast Asia, so establishing a base in the country is essential if they are going to succeed in the Asian market as a whole. The company wisely formed a partnership with ComfortDelGro, the country’s largest taxi company, earlier this year. This should give them a significant advantage over Grab, as ComfortDelGro is one of their key rivals in the region. That said, the deal is still subject to regulatory approval and there’s no telling if the country will take measures against the proposed joint venture.