Uber quietly plans significant Asia expansion
A quick glance at the job posting section of Uber’s website reveals that the company is looking to hire general managers, operational and logistics managers, and community managers in China (Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai); Japan (Tokyo); India (Bangalore); and Thailand (Bangkok).
To learn more, Tnooz quizzed Uber’s interim head of Asia operations, Allen Penn, who told us:
“We are in our secret Uber testing phase in Seoul and Taipei. Uber is looking for opportunities throughout the region.”
Uber’s expansion in Asia is interesting for various reasons, because the company doesn’t own any cars and doesn’t employ drivers. Rather it is an aggregator of taxis, connecting consumers with drivers.
Speed bumps ahead
Asia’s regulatory policies regarding car hire remain unstable. For example:
- In May 2013, some Chinese local governments imposed a ban on taxi-hiring apps, raising concerns that the apps could destabilize the industry.
- Then, Shanghai’s local government allowed the use of taxi-hiring apps, but on the condition that users of the apps should not be charged any other fee apart from trip fare.
- Confusingly, in early July, Beijing’s Municipal Transportation Bureau capped fees (the amount that a driver can charge a customer to bid for him or her to accept their request).
Rivals in Asia
Uber is performing this expansion at a time when the taxi rental/hire business is considered a booming sector in major countries in Asia.
Among these, Didi Dache has tied-up with Baidu’s mapping app for iPhones. (Baidu is China’s largest search engine.)
All of these companies can technically be called startups. But, each of them has been funded, and a few have received multiple rounds of funding.