The global media is awash this week with coverage of Elon Musk’s vision for Twitter. As well as renaming it “X” and mothballing the famous birdie logo, his new CEO, Linda Yaccarino tweeted: “X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.”


Sounds good, once you sort out the word salad – but let’s face it, Musk, Yaccarino and Twitter are just playing catch-up. The template for X is the multi-national, technology-based, comprehensive digital service platforms that emerged in Asia more than a decade ago. China’s WeChat came first in 2011 and – to steal an awesome tag line from American Express- nobody leaves home without it, despite it being hard to sign up, and with questionable user security.

Homegrown and leading the pack

For easy to use, secure, highly imaginative apps,  Musk should look to Southeast Asia’s homegrown superapps. In 2012, entrepreneurs Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling launched Myteksi as a ride-hailing service in Malaysia, a country notorious for terrible taxi experiences.

Rebranded as Grab in 2016, the company has delivered an extraordinarily rapid expansion. New partnerships across the region, new investors, acquisitions of rivals like Uber, a Nasdaq listing and a slew of new customer services.

Every service you can imagine

The two Tans took advantage of a perfect confluence of factors, including the liberalisation of Singapore’s banking regulations and the disruptions of the Covid pandemic when the shutdowns caused the entire world to shift online for home delivery of everything from groceries to cooked meals. Grab today encompasses a huge range of mobility services, food delivery, grocery and package delivery and fintech services including digital payments, insurance, micro-investment and financing for consumers, micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses. In short, we almost cannot live without it!



It is no surprise that others saw and liked the trail blazed by Grab. Gojek started in Indonesia in 2010 as a call centre with a fleet of just 20 motorcycle-taxi drivers (ojek, in Indonesian.) The company launched the Gojek app in 2015 and today is hot on the heels of Grab, offering the same range of services to a vast and largely “mobile first” young Indonesian population.


Other Asian Superapps include Kakao in South Korea, India’s Paytm and Alipay, a Chinese competitor for WeChat.


Grab, Gojek and their siblings demonstrate the ambition, entrepreneurial spirit and technology knowhow of Asia’s young business pioneers rooted in one of the youngest and fastest growing regions in the world.


This is Priority Consultants’ home market, and we live Asia! Our deep local knowledge combines with domain expertise to help our clients expand their brand presence in these vibrant markets.


Elon Musk’s X may well become the first ride-hailing service on Mars, but in Asia? We got this!