Think of it as the Uberization of mmmm Content. (Sorry Careem, you still need to build Careem Food Delivery and some other things to play catchup or out Uber, Uber in some other regional/clever ways.(Payments??)
The average media company will not be able to compete with Uber or Careem given the war chest of funding these 2 have. This story gets more interesting and exciting in the region(GCC/ASIA) where the 24/7 Breaking/Live culture and an average 50% population being under 25 yrs old, there is a huge potential to build a content ecosystem within the apps and beyond, with a special emphasis on “ride time enabled” content. Meaning make the most of your ride time and focus on the user.
Google, FB, Go-jek and Grab in their ways are figuring out plays outside of Pakistan and GCC in this space, as is Uber. But what about Careem? There is no news on any partner API or ecosystem opening up just yet for content. If we look at whats happening around us, aside from related partner services, Grab is also bringing news, games and other content to its app, which got a getting a design facelift to reflect the change. In the past, Grab’s app had opened to a ride-booking screen, but now it will load a list of services and content to reflect a more diverse set of options. There’s actually nothing new there. That approach is very much similar to Go-Jek, the Indonesian rival to Grab and is expanding across Southeast Asia and first pioneered the concept of on-demand services in Southeast Asia. Meaning Grabs ME2 approach is fairly visible. The Grab refresh also takes cues from China’s Meituan, a super app company that invested in Go-Jek and is going public in Hong Kong, and blockbuster Chinese apps WeChat from Tencent and Alipay.
Woaa. Back up one second. We already have Ali Pay coming to town with Wechat and the likes not too far away our market + the greater Middle East(Careems home turf) is in for fun times for the consumer. So its an amazing time for content service provers also, not to be mistaken for the Click-bait variety but folks who have a handle on contextually aware services and geo fenced offerings.
All this will only happen when the likes of Careem have open APIs for the content providers to work and suggest how to partake and build service offerings. The availability of “said” Api will also help any one else to offer a Careem booking from within their APP or service for Example. Careems too busy (hopefully not) with the engineered news of Uber buying them and their folks being involved in their own fund raising and keeping up with valuation fever that It seems like the agility is dying down.
Dont get me wrong, on its primary service, Careems value proposition in Pakistan has been so compelling to me that It forced me to downsize car ownership. For my travels in the region, its the goto APP as well. But beyond that there is nothing compelling to grow the user base, engage with it, provide additional services and or use the “network effect” for content or any other type of delivery. (Albeit all these services will have to be opt-in enabled)
So heres a very simplistic view, as opposed to buying other peoples content. Careem can basically build or buy a media company to focus on this demographic or buy multiple ones to get into the Media content production business. You ask why, because their target demographic is fairly clean. Unlike a traditional media company they have the ability to cater to their audience mix because they know in real time who they are.
Out of the 14 countries it is in, Its primary market is Arabic speaking + English and Secondary Market is Urdu + English. They do not have localized language items(topic for an other day) not to forget an other goldmine that they are sitting on which is the Women demographic.
Supposedly just in Pakistan 30% of their rides are to women. The largest growth segment in the Middle East and Pakistan is CPG, thus the CPG Women Audience is what the likes of Google and FB have been un-able to crack in our part of the world due to sketchy data. This brings captive users to that ecosystem. What better than your own content delivery network to monetize this? Especially if there is an IPO coming soon. Millenial audience based Media/content plays could be had for 10-50-100M$ and for sure add more revenue than the supposed 175M$ revenue Careem is grappling with in this primary service line. Its burning more cash and the content space can prove to be a true monetization channel coupled with an ad-network + partner content & service delivery. Uber may be out of SouthEast Asia but there is no end in sight in the Middle East or Pakistan for them. Their success may be limited but their check books aren’t. Over time if they come out with more services that engage the users more, its only a matter of time they will outspend every one else.
You may say Careem already has fashion/retail ambitions via Dukkan Careem or the acquisition of Round Menu being indicative of launching a food delivery service. Both are a bit late and without Careem Pay launched really dont complete the ecosystem. The content play can happen in parallel or even before.
Uber already experimented with Info Cards and Hyper local info and timed podcasts per ride, but it can go much farther and deeper. Media companies will suffer in the region at the hands of the super apps coming from our Chinese friends, already traffic to media sites/content is down to all time record lows and the advertising giants will have a tougher time down the road trying to monetize that content. But our Chinese friends are winning that race. Careem and others have an edge, they know demographic and geographic location and if they viewed their app/or future super app as an audience engagement tool they could arguably in the short term add more value per ride to the users and advertisers both, whilst bolstering their profits. Maybe its not profitability they are after and all they care about is market share. What better way to use the same network to build larger market share? Its like monetizing your captive user base multiple times a day, even when they aren’t taking a ride. Talk about down time monetization(DTM). No one has tried to crack that nut yet. Careem could.
Go Jek and Grab already have plays in the space, Careem doesn’t have a visible play. No one to the best of what I can gather has a media play or captive content development strategy. The former are in services/payments/and APIs already. Careem needs to also be in the Rails Business , perhaps it already is and will surprise us all.
Some thing I never understood that could help build out an insanely profitable content business has not yet been done by Careem. Imagine this use case, Careem today is relatively exclusive to the smart phone based user and those who can use the app via english interfaces(mostly) in Pakistan at least. That leaves the other non-smart phone users out.(100m+) Why doesn’t Careem use the likes of Shop owners and Easypaisa guys to book rides from their location for people who show up to a location bearing a sign “Careem Ride Stop” or “سواری دکان ” any one can come, wait for the store owner to book a ride on behalf of the patron, if they had an API, send a txt msg to a dumb phone of the user, who could respond back to accept the ride terms, once they did, car showed up, once ride ended their easy paisa account could get charged or they could pay cash.
Seems like some thing fairly logical, the ride booking agent could get 5/10 Rs to book a ride. Imagine the kind of mobility this would add to under developed areas and what range of entrepreneurs this would sprout. Supplemental Income also. Similarly guys with smart phones in densely populated bazars doing real time ride bookings and pickups, outside of schools, universities, hospitals, airports…
With this level of interfacing with offline customers, they could get accurate user demographics(happy to explain the nitty gritty to whom ever is interested) and by working with carriers and having in car devices and zero rated or free internet run video/other content to every user even those without a smart phone. Imagine a Careem powered TV network or news network or content network, entertainment, cooking, food/lifestyle and a captive daily audiences. Its some thing the Media companies only wish they could do. Monetize eyeballs you already have and open your audience for others to monetize.
Its time to think outside the box to really capitalize on this. Perhaps buying a media or content play is too ambitious at the moment. Or maybe they have too many things going on like launching payments and food delivery to really evaluate this. But with their South East Asian friends already getting hot and heavy in the space and with the coming of the Chinese to Pakistan, disruption is coming.
Googles already hedging its last mile bet by investing in Go-Jek, I hope Careem is doing some thing similar as it would be a pity if they eventually went bust in the region.
They have done a great service by way of creating direct/indirect employment but there is potential to do a lot more. Democratize access to news/content across the GCC and Pakistan, 2 regions that need it the most. Its also a public service of sorts, imagine as Careem grows and its youth centric audience grows, it would become the largest Media Influencer in the region. Especially if they produced localized video content for incar/hyper local use from reviews to restaurants already in its menu business and then do deliveries and drive sales for its ancillary businesses. Heres to hoping that all these guys stop copying each other and figure out new use cases and build fast and build strong. All this applies to Uber too but since Careem bet on Pakistan wed like to bet on Careem.