Uber launches first engineering centre in AsiaC

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Bengaluru: Ride hailing service Uber Inc. on Thursday inaugurated its first engineering centre in Asia in Bengaluru in an attempt to address local problems around poor Internet connectivity, accuracy in routing vehicles and supply projection among others.

The engineering centre currently has about eight engineers and is headed by former Google executive Jaikumar Ganesh. The company, which is the world’s most valuable start-up at $62 billion, will recruit hundreds of engineers in the current month, said chief technology officer Thuan Pham.

Uber has another 10 engineers at its Hyderabad centre, but they work on the company’s internal system. The team in Bengaluru will work on consumer-facing products.

The company employs more than 1,000 engineers in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Sofia in Bulgaria, Aarhus in Denmark and Vilnius in Lithuania.

“Launching Asia’s first engineering center in Bengaluru is a testament to our commitment to investing in India and I can’t wait to see the innovations that will come from this team as they work to support the phenomenal growth of our business in cities across the country,” Pham said.

Uber said in June last year that the company will invest as much as $1 billion in India within the next six to nine months, signalling its ambition to catch up with local rival Ola and become the dominant taxi service app in the country.

Since launching in India in August 2013, Uber has slashed prices, introduced low-cost services and even accepted cash payments to adapt its lean business model to India.

Pham said the company has already implemented some local innovations such as cash payments in other geographies such as Vietnam and Nairobi.

In India, Uber competes with Ola, run by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd. Ola, which acquired smaller rival TaxiForSure in March last year to wrest market share from Uber, has so far raised close to $1.2 billion from Tiger Global management, DST Global and SoftBank, among others.

The two companies have been rolling out services such as ride sharing, carpooling and even bike taxis and slashing fares in an attempt to acquire customers. To be sure, Ola has a far bigger penetration in India with a presence in 102 cities, as against 29 cities for Uber.