Careem: chapter 3

April 10, 2023

A letter from Mudassir Sheikha, CEO and Co-Founder of Careem, to Careem colleagues on Monday, April 10th, 2023:

Today is the start of Careem’s Chapter 3. It’s a big moment for Careem, and we will inshallah make it an exciting inflection point for the region’s digital economy. 

I am delighted to announce that we have secured $400 million in investment from e&, the global technology and investments group. This investment will turbo-charge our Super App vision and restart our entrepreneurial journey to build the preeminent technology platform of our region. In Uber and e&, we now have two exceptional partners to help us get there. 

Nearly 11 years ago, we started Careem with a desire to build something big and meaningful. On the one hand, the success of Careem and its impact on our ecosystem has exceeded our wildest imaginations. On the other hand, we are still painfully early in our purpose to simplify the lives of people and build an awesome organization that inspires. This digital revolution that is sweeping across the region presents us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to radically improve the lives of people at scale and build a lasting institution that will rival the largest in the world on impact. 

While the last four years that made up Chapter 2 have been tough, especially on the back of the global pandemic, they have also been extremely pivotal. We finally found a scalable way to realize our purpose. We became a Super App and proved the concept in Careem’s home city of Dubai where we operate more than a dozen services that are all growing and feeding each other. The Super App is alhamdulillah ready to be unleashed! 

We are extremely grateful to Uber for being an early supporter of the Super App. They have literally funded and brought the Super App to a point where it can stand on its own. Being a part of the Uber group for the last few years has also been an incredible learning experience. We have learned a ton on how to run a large global tech platform at scale, how to balance growth and profitability, and how to operate at the highest levels of professionalism.

But the next stage for the Super App and the scale of our ambition requires a setup that can unlock funding and entrepreneurial energy. Scaling an early-stage product like our Super App is hard. It requires a ton of entrepreneurial energy that gets unleashed in startups when individuals can see their efforts towards product/service success translate into personal success through increases in the value of equity they hold. In the upcoming Chapter 3, we are evolving our setup to unleash this entrepreneurial energy and give our purpose the maximum tailwinds for success.

What is Chapter 3? 

In Chapter 3, we are restarting our entrepreneurial journey with Uber and e& as two strong partners to build a large and lasting institution from the region. We will simplify the lives of a lot more people in more ways than just mobility. We will become a launchpad for entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses across the region. We will acquire the most awesome talent and startups in the region. And we will continue to play our part as the leadership factory for the region’s digital economy. 

I think of Careem today as a collection of exciting startups that sit on top of a regional technology, marketing and organization platform. We have slightly late-stage startups in Rides and Food, and we have early-stage ones in Grocery, Pay, Express and Bike. These are each supported by our platform enablers in the form of Careem Plus, Ads, and Tenant Partners, which are startups in their own right. Scaling all these startups and enablers to capture the massive opportunity that lies ahead requires exceptional talent, entrepreneurial energy, and last but not least, significant investment. 

Our new investor and partner, e&, shares our passion for the region, for technology, and is on an ambitious mission of its own to transform from being a Telco to a TechCo. There is almost perfect alignment of vision, large overlap in geographic footprint, and enormous demand synergies in their 162m customer base. It is safe to say that we could not have found a more aligned and resourceful partner than e& to join us on this journey. 

How will Careem operate in Chapter 3? 

While the Careem app and experience will remain the same for customers, captains and partners, the way we organize ourselves internally in Chapter 3 will evolve to enable this investment. At the highest level, there will be two organizational units: Careem Rides and Careem Technologies. 

  • Careem Rides will operate our foundational ride-hailing service and will continue to be fully owned by Uber. About 260 colleagues who directly or indirectly support Careem Rides today will serve in Careem Rides under the continued leadership of Ashish Labroo, who will start reporting into Uber’s Rides leadership. This structure will enable colleagues in Careem Rides to collaborate more closely with Uber on core product experiences, which coupled with Careem Ride’s strong operational footprint and Super App synergies will create an unrivalled rides offering to power the rest of our Super App. 

  • Careem Technologies will operate the Super App along with all other verticals and enablers. It will be owned jointly by e&, Uber, the three co-founders (who are investing alongside e&), and the colleagues. About 1,400 colleagues will be invited to join the Careem Technologies, which I will lead as CEO. We will use the new funding and synergies with our new partner (e&) to scale the Super App and build category-leading verticals in all our key markets. Some colleagues in Careem Technologies who work on shared infrastructure will continue to support Careem Rides. We remain committed to responsible and sequential growth.  

Everyone at Careem will remain united under our shared purpose and values. We will serve the same customers, and we will operate in the same physical and digital spaces. 

Regardless of where you sit at Careem, we will all continue to shoot for the moon in everything we do, do whatever it takes to bring our value of EEM (Every Experience Matters) to life, challenge and inspire each other, drive our region forward, and build a lasting institution that will inshallah outlast all of us on this planet.

What’s next for Careem? 

With the infusion of new investment and a resourceful new partner, it’s time to increase the intensity of our execution. It’s time to show the region all the amazing products that we have been cooking for them these last few years. It’s time to re-establish ourselves as the most awesome and electric place to work in the region. It’s time to accelerate the realization of our purpose!

Over the next decade, the region will produce a handful of companies that will be the digital champions of the region; they will end up becoming among the largest companies in the region. Given the outsized influence they will have on the future of our region, it matters what values they have and how they will behave. In Careem’s purposeful start and value-system, the region will inshallah have a strong force for good at the helm of an important part of its economy. 

Please join me at the Global All Hands session today where we will share more details about this announcement, answer your questions, and share some of the initial next steps.

Last but not least, I would like to say a massive THANK YOU to all our colleagues who worked day and night to bring us here. Having seen the tribulations of this process up and close, I personally feel a huge sense of gratitude and indebtedness towards them. When you see them in person or on zoom next time, please do not forget to thank them from the bottom of your heart. 

And of course thanks to all of you who have brought Careem this far to have made this possible. 

Let’s celebrate for a little bit, and then back to work. It’s time to accelerate! 

#YallaCareem #Chapter3