Uber says they decided to keep their APAC regional HQ here as Singapore is "an amazing talent hub".

Alanna Tan  |  Singapore
Published 2019-04-03 00:07:42

Uber’s chapter in Singapore was believed to be closed since the merger in 2018 transferred all of its Southeast Asia operations, namely the ride-hailing and food delivery services, under its rival, Grab.

Since then, it’s been quiet about Uber in these parts of the world, save for talks of how its employees were affected by the sudden change, and what the firm is up to on the other side of the globe.

Now, a year after the merger took place, we were slightly taken aback when Uber extended an invitation to us to visit their newly opened Asia Pacific Regional Hub.

At Frasers Tower in the heart of Tanjong Pagar, Uber’s APAC Director of Communications Amy Kunrojpanya takes us through the new 2,000 square metre site that’s currently home to 165 staff.

uber singapore office
Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific

“We’ve Had A Regional Hub In S’pore For Several Years”

Addressing questions from the media, Amy cleared the air and explained that Uber has never left us—at least in terms of running a headquarters.

“Singapore is a non-operational market for us,” she confirmed. “That means we don’t have operations on the ground [or] products in the marketplace.”

But she says they’ve “taken due diligence” and came to the decision to retain their regional hub that existed here even before the acquisition.

“[Singapore] is an amazing talent hub for us, both in terms of people who are already part of our team, and also our ability to attract and export talent across the region [from here],” Amy says.

To that, she also adds that Singapore’s “progressive environment”—the way policies are created, and the activities in startup and tech communities—is another reason that they’ve chosen to stay.

“We don’t have plans to relocate the hub. We are very clearly committed to Singapore.

uber mission statement
A feature wall in the waiting area shows Uber’s mission statement / Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific

Keeping Eyes On 9 Markets From Singapore

Headed by Uber’s Chief Business Officer Brooks Entwistle, the hub manages operations in 9 countries around the region, including Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, and Australia.

As a central place that looks over these markets, the Regional Hub is designed with a touch of each local culture.

uber singapore office
This wall of lockers reflects the tiny apartments in Hong Kong / Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific

Between rows of working desks, common areas break the monotony, each featuring cultural elements from one of the countries Uber has a presence in.

While employees can rest and relax in the themed ‘mini living rooms’, each of these areas is also equipped with white boards so discussions can take place anytime.

uber singapore office
Embodying the zen of Japan with tatami mats and minimalist furniture / Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific
uber singapore office
Splashes of colour reflect India’s vibrance / Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific
uber singapore office
Elements of Filippino culture, such as rattan chairs and fans / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Out of its floor-to-ceiling windows, the hub has a bird’s eye view of Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown, an area that has been home to Uber since the company’s earliest days coming to Singapore in 2013.

They’ve saved some of the corners of the office as lounging spaces, so that no one gets to hog the best views for themselves.

uber singapore office
Image Credit: Vulcan Post
uber singapore office
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

There’s a trend among tech and startup offices these days, such as Facebook, Google, and WeWork, where playful names are coined to give meeting rooms a taste of locality and a human touch.

Uber’s new location takes a leaf out of this book as well, giving its 17 meeting rooms quirky names like “Laksa”, “Mee Pok” and “Xiao Long Bao”.

uber singapore office
Dim sum trays line one of the walls in the ‘Xiao Long Bao’ room / Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific
uber singapore office
A pair of chopsticks are suspended over a fiery bowl in the ‘Laksa’ room / Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific
uber singapore office
Tiled patterns and traditional wooden furniture in the ‘Kopi’ room / Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific
uber singapore office
The ‘Mee Pok’ room has, by far, the brightest and boldest design / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

The emphasis on food is far from subtle, and alludes to UberEats as one of their core products that grew rapidly around the world.

However, a couple of rooms also give nods to other icons in Singapore.

uber singapore office
‘Chinatown’ / Image Credit: Vulcan Post
uber singapore office
Cable cars hang overhead in at ‘Mount Faber’ room / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

So Yes, You Can Still Get A Job At Uber In Singapore

Amy tells us that the folks working at Uber, who come from diverse backgrounds, all had inputs into the office’s design features, especially providing details from their own home countries.

Some would help Uber’s artist-in-residence suss out the elements that went into a mural that runs along the wall of their dining space.

uber mural
A Singaporean must have made sure there were durians in the scene / Image Credit: Vulcan Post
uber office pantry
Image Credit: Vulcan Post
uber office pantry
The cosy pantry where employees enjoy their meals and coffee also doubles as a presentation stage / Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific

While Uber’s workforce certainly took a hit in Singapore, and plummeted from its previous high of having “hundreds” of staff members, Amy shares that they’re continually hiring.

The firm has about 4,000 employees across APAC, and gained 780 new hires for the region in Q1 2019 alone.

They aren’t revealing how many positions the Singapore HQ plans to fill. However, various job postings for roles like finance, project managers, business development, and fraud analysts, can currently be found online.

Uber Asia Pacific Regional Hub
34F Frasers Tower, 182 Cecil Street
Singapore 069547

VP Goes To is a series where we take you to the latest events and coolest spaces for an exclusive inside look. Know a place or event we should check out? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page.

Featured Image Credit: Uber Asia Pacific

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