India’s 75th Independence Day: Uber Technologies’ journey and vision in India

Over the last 75 years, India has become a hub for innovation in terms of the technology sector. Uber’s India tech story started in 2014 from a bungalow in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, with a handful of driven engineers ideating about what the future of technology in the transportation industry would look like over the next decade and beyond says Manikandan Thangarathnam, Senior Director, Platform Engineering, Uber in conversation with CXOtoday on Uber India’s journey so far in innovating technology for both local and global markets.
  1. As India touches its 75th year of its independence, what are your thoughts on the growth of the technology industry over the last few years?

India has made phenomenal strides in its 75 years since independence – from becoming an economic powerhouse to a democratizing internet ecosystem that has brought services to the tips of a billion people. There is so much to be proud of when you look at the journey we have made but what stands out for me is how technology has transformed people’s lives and the potential it has to change the fate of a sea of humanity that lives in this country. From agriculture to space, services to manufacturing, education to healthcare – there is nothing untouched by the advent of technology and its impact on teeming millions. India@75 to me means a country brimming with promise and possibilities.


2. What has been the journey like for the Uber tech team in India so far?

Uber’s India tech story started in 2014 from a bungalow in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, with a handful of driven engineers ideating about what the future of technology in the transportation industry would look like over the next decade and beyond. The teams, and our presence have since grown to two massive tech centers in the country – one in Hyderabad and another in Bangalore. Earlier this year, we reached an important milestone with our India tech teams being 1,000-member strong, spread across 13 business critical charters. As an example to show how vital India’s tech centers are for Uber, our FinTech teams here have developed systems to track and manage every single dollar coming into the platform across the globe.


3. What are some of the innovations that the Indian tech teams have done so far for both local and global markets?

We’ve often emphasized on the fact that Uber is a global enterprise with teams in various parts collectively solving mobility and delivery challenges for the entire world. The tech teams in India have often been front and center in this vision, and have led countless innovations over the years. Our Mobility engineering team developed the Uber Bus product from the ground up, unlocking a very different rider base for the company. Pilots for the product are still on in many countries, including Delhi-NCR in India.

Beyond unlocking a different rider base, our tech teams in India also created a whole new revenue stream for the company by creating an entirely new tech stack that now allows third-party cabs to be booked via the Uber app. We recently announced in the US that the iconic New York taxis could now be booked through the Uber app – that innovation was driven out of India, by our teams here.


4. How do you see the technology and mobility industry in India shaping up in the coming years?

The next few years will witness an explosion of technology like never before, and the initial steps we’ve taken in unlocking the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning will be unleashed to a whole new level. We could expect nearly half of our life activities being automated over the next few years, with devices for nearly all purposes being connected to the Internet of Things. The vast tech talent in India would bring the country front and centre when it comes to several of these innovations, presenting an opportunity for exponential growth.

Cloud computing is also poised to see disruption like never before, with companies investing more to create a distributed IT infrastructure for themselves by using multi-cloud platforms.

Sectors poised for a transformation in India:

  • FinTech – We already have the distinction of being a clear leader in this space, where transacting is much easier in India than it is in many other countries. The Unified Payments Interface introduced by the government is a fine example of technology enabling lightning fast transactions that are also secure. Everything being digitized has sped up the processes and increased possibilities by a great extent. Over the next few years, this space is going to erupt further.
  • Education – This is one space where we haven’t exactly cracked the problem yet. Access to technology is so far available only to the top institutions and students in urban centers. Over the next few years, technology powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence will aid better education opportunities and outcomes.
  • Transportation – Transportation as an industry has been ripe for disruption – there have been various innovations, but none of these technologies are at a place yet where we can see mass adoption. Over the next few years, we’re going to see precisely that disruption in the transportation industry, which presents a unique opportunity for India to take the lead here. Finding more sustainable mobility options is also going to be a top priority for companies and the government at large, and the next few years will welcome new fuel sources to power our vehicles. The good part is we’re already seeing green shoots in this territory. Ridesharing is just the beginning of this disruption.


5. How do you see Uber Tech’s growth trajectory in India going forward?

We continue to invest in the vast tech talent India has to offer, with the country already being a major talent hub for us, and several key innovations and growth ideas being churned out of our centers in Hyderabad and Bangalore. The biggest difference for Uber tech in India over the recent past has been the multitude of ideas originating from our teams, which have formed the basis of growth and expansion across the globe. This has enabled us to come up with many new products and solutions, all of which were developed from scratch here. I am confident this trend will only grow from here.

We’re now looking at a portfolio of talent and job roles from India, and have been aggressively hiring to build more teams here. We recently announced plans to hire 500 techies in India by December, and are well on our way to realising that target. Our faith in the fine tech talent India has to offer only grows each passing day, and we will continue to invest here. I’ve often called this out, and thoroughly believe that this is a great opportunity for all upcoming and talented engineers to join our journey, and innovate with us for billions across the globe, helping build cities of the future.

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