Singapore’s GrabTaxi has opened a development office in downtown Seattle led by a former Microsoft engineer.
GrabTaxi, a ride-hailing app that has been growing across Southeast Asia, has opened a Seattle development office led by Microsoft veteran Raman Narayanan, with plans to hire 12 engineers in the next six months.
Narayanan, a former distinguished engineer at Microsoft who led engineering teams for 22 years, cautioned that the new office does not mean GrabTaxi plans to launch service in the United States.
“We’re not announcing anything about a U.S. service,” he said. “Right now, this is just an engineering office.”
The company has leased a 3,000-square-foot office in downtown’s Two Union Square.
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GrabTaxi operates services within its app that allow people to hail traditional taxis, as well as private cars, motorbikes and carpooling services. The company is headquartered in Singapore and has development offices in Singapore and Beijing.
The service makes available more than 185,000 drivers in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. GrabTaxi says it has up to 1.5 million bookings a day.
The Seattle engineers will work largely on back-end technology. GrabTaxi wants to keep developing much of the customer-facing technology near the customers in Southeast Asia.
“The two biggest cloud-computing platforms were built here and are headquartered here,” Narayanan said. “The kind of software engineers that work on those platforms are the kind Grab is seeking.”
GrabTaxi is the latest in a long line of technology companies that have established engineering offices in the Seattle area to capitalize on the region’s talent pool.
Another recent newcomer is ride-hailing giant Uber, which also has a presence in GrabTaxi’s six Southeast Asian markets. The booming San Francisco company opened a Seattle development office last March and has about 20 open jobs in Seattle posted on its site.