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Uber ramps up hiring in India to gain edge in battle with Ola

OLA_UBERUber Technologies Inc. is rapidly increasing its headcount in India, as the US cab-hailing firm shifts its focus to the South Asian nation after exiting China.

The number of employees has grown almost eight times over the past year, from 80 to more than 600 now, Pradeep Desu, head of recruitment at Uber India, told TechCircle.

The company is looking to fill several vacancies across India this year in functions such as business development, marketing and operations.

Uber’s India careers page has more than 70 vacancies for Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Guwahati, Pune, Surat and Kolkata. These include head of marketing and head of customer relationship management at the Gurgaon head office.

The company is also actively using its own app to look for potential employees. A week ago, whoever opened the Uber app in Mumbai was greeted by a message: “Want to work with Uber?” The message said that the company is hiring people “to shape the future of transportation in Mumbai”.

Recently, Uber appointed former journalist Shweta Rajpal Kohli as the head of public policy and government affairs for its India operations.

Uber broke convention in June last year when it appointed Amit Jain from Renti.com as president and India head, a first-of-its-kind position in any of its markets.

The ride-hailing firm says it is focussing on its business in India, its second-largest market in terms of number of trips taken after the US, following its decision to sell its China operations to local rival Didi Chuxing.

In a recent interview to Mint, Uber’s Jain said the company had started to divert to India a significant portion of the $1 billion investment it had planned to make in China this year. He also said the company planned to increase the team at its Bengaluru engineering centre to 50 from 15 by the end of the year.

Uber is one the most heavily-funded startups in the world. Marquee names such as Fidelity Investments, BlackRock Inc, Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures, Menlo Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Qatar Investment Authority have put money in the company.

Uber mainly competes with ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which operates Ola, in India. Ola is also beefing up its leadership team. Last week, tech news site FactorDaily reported, citing anonymous sources, that Ola was in talks to hire Mayank Trivedi, Nestle’s country manager for Greater China region, for a leadership role, reporting to CEO Bhavish Aggarwal.

Ola, however, recently laid off hundreds of employees after shutting down its subsidiary TaxiForSure.

Analysts say it is essential for Uber to boost its staff strength to achieve its growth plans and tap into the vast opportunity in India. “The market potential is huge and that is why they are making strategic investments,” says Moorthy K Uppaluri, managing director and CEO at recruitment firm Randstad India.

Sanjay Modi, managing director at job portal Monster.com’s Asia and Middle East business, said that a lack of integrated public transport in India and growing congestion on roads discouraging commuters from self-driven cars are together fueling growth of taxi-hailing aggregators in the country.

“Given this landscape of intense competition, players need to find the right talent fit in order to ride the growth wave,” Modi said.

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