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SoftBank woes and Uber losses put pressure on Asian superapp Grab

Profit the new mantra at Singapore startup once promised 'unlimited support'

The Grab-Gojek battle is heating up across Southeast Asia. (Photo by Rie Ishii)

SINGAPORE -- It already seems like a distant memory when SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son visited Indonesia in July and promised a $2 billion investment in the country through tech startup Grab, which in turn pledged to build a "second headquarters" in Jakarta.

Only three months later, and those salad days may have gone for the Singapore-based ride-hailing app. Last valued at $14 billion, according to CB Insights, Grab is now having to think hard about profitability and margins -- as are all startups in Asia's thriving tech scene.

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