Temasek-linked ComfortDelGro and SMRT Taxi have thrown in the towel, forced to become Grab/Uber copycats.
Any competent CEO would have anticipated the competition but the only strategy known to GLC CEOs is ‘wait-and-see’.
Faced with real competition, Comfort has seen its market share declining, along with cab drivers’ earnings. And so Comfort waited until it saw competition eating into its profits and has now decided to ‘innovate’.
But innovation is nothing more than installing similar Uber/Grab apps which had given them the advantage over taxis. In this age and time, where got such a thing as requesting commuters to “try again in ten minutes” one? What a joke.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s just a matter of time before GLCs fail. Book-smart CEOs of GLCs lack relevant business experience and Comfort is no exception. A look at their prior relevant qualifications:
CEO of Comfort taxis is a Mr Yang Ban Seng. Prior to joining Comfort in 1989, Yang was Assistant Director of MOE, Deputy Director of MHA and NTUC Secretary for Co-operatives. In short, Yang had zero prior relevant experience but was parachuted into Comfort by PAP.
Top of the Comfort food chain is Group CEO Kua Hong Pak. A 73-year old dinosaur, Kua landed his job with a parachute 14 years ago. Kua is a director of a number of GLCs and Temasek Holdings.
Kua will be stepping down end of this month and his replacement is … Yang Ban Seng. link
With fat paychecks and bonuses come rain or shine, CEOs of GLCs need not innovate nor bother about increasing productivity. In fact, they have always been behind the curve.
“For too long, Comfort has relied on its market dominance and has stagnated in improving its services. The usefulness of its electronic terminals (developed in the early 2000s by ST Electronics and running Windows CE) for bookings is probably at an end.
The arrival of GrabTaxi has quickly shown how outdated parts of Comfort’s business model are.
It needs to compete on offering better rental rates to drivers, and on providing cabs that are more reliable than other operators’. This means, among other things, a reversal of its policy of hollowing out its maintenance crew, which has seen an inexorable replacement of experienced local mechanics with cheaper foreign labour, and which many drivers have complained about.” techinasia.com
Instead of acknowledging the failure to innovate and adapt, the issue is one of the taxi industry being prevented from adapting, according to former paper general and Second MOT Minister Ng Chee Meng.
In the real private sector, CEO Yang would have been sacked for sleeping on the job. But in PAP’s ‘private’ sector, he gets promoted to Group CEO. So much for meritocracy.
So, what’s next? Copycat Uber and Grab every step of the way?