Singaporean superapp Grab delivers massive job cuts with after hours email

‘We thought you'd like some terrible news in the comfort of your own home’ was the gist of it

Singaporean superapp Grab has revealed it will lay off 1,000 staffers, or eleven percent of its workforce – and did it with an after-hours email.

"We are informing you after office hours for as many of our locations as possible, so you have the space and time to process the news privately" states the email from Grab CEO Anthony Tan, who went on to explain "we are not doing this as a shortcut to profitability."

But he was probably doing it to avoid a terrible scene in the office, in which fired and retained staff mingled and almost certainly moaned or departed to the pub for the afternoon. That would not have helped productivity for the rideshare, food delivery, financial services and mapping services upstart – which dominates South East Asia so thoroughly that Uber decided it was better off joining Grab than trying to compete with it.

The primary goal of this exercise is to strategically reorganize ourselves

Deeper into the mail, Tan described producing profits as "only a step in a longer journey," adding that the focus is "on what comes after."

Tan's post does at least see the CEO own the situation. He wrote "I want to be accountable and explain why and how we got here."

He went on: "We must adapt to the environment in which we operate. Change has never been this fast. Technology such as generative AI is evolving at breakneck speed. The cost of capital has gone up, directly impacting the competitive landscape."

Past decisions to cut costs and shed some products and plans, haven't been sufficient to cope with the current environment, so Tan now believes "fundamental step-changes in our operating model and cost structure are needed to build our competitive moat for the longer term."

"The primary goal of this exercise is to strategically reorganize ourselves, so that we can move faster, work smarter, and rebalance our resources across our portfolio in line with our longer term strategies," he explained.

Cutting 1,000 jobs will also mean Grab can offer "Even more affordable services and deepen our penetration of the masses, and also serve our driver- and merchant-partners better."

Staff will be offered two weeks pay for every six months of service, a year of LinkedIn's Premium offering, and an "Option to keep Grabber's pre-assigned laptop."


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"We recognize that change can be incredibly challenging, and the decisions made have been weighed with great care and consideration with all our leaders. Our priority is to support impacted Grabbers throughout this transition, and as per above, we are committed to providing resources and assistance to help ease the process," Tan added.

Grab's layoff mail joins the ranks of other cruel HR actions including Atlassian's "you might be fired by another email arriving in 15 minutes" gambit, the CEO who made himself the victim while firing the 900 people invited to a Zoom, and Elon Musk's missive declaring if we mailed your personal email account it's because you don't have a job at Twitter anymore" howler.

If you've been let go in similarly callous ways, feel free to contact your correspondent or make a comment. ®

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