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Last Updated : Jun 15, 2018 06:56 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

With Uber Lite, India gets utmost importance from San Francisco-based ride-hailing app

Uber will soon be expanding this product to other markets.

In order to cater to users with low internet bandwidth, US-based ride- hailing firm Uber on Tuesday announced the launch of Uber Lite, a 5MB version of its app.

In what turns out to be an India first initiative, Uber will soon be expanding this product to other markets.

To be sure, rival Ola also has launched lighter version of its app, almost six months ago.


In an interaction with Moneycontrol, Peter Deng, head of rider experience and Manik Gupta, vice president product, maps and marketplace, Uber, talk about why India is becoming a hub for technological innovations in India.

Uber has operations across 29 cities in India and you have chosen Delhi and Jaipur as pilot cities for Uber Lite. Your competitor Ola on the other hand launched Lite with an aim to cater to smaller cities. Do you think there will be a huge market for Uber Lite even in metros such as Delhi?

Manik Gupta: There are many users in Delhi, who will benefit from this. If we look at our research 70 percent of the users have a low-end device or entry level phones. Then there are space constraints (on the device) besides network conditions.

What sort of a growth in the user base are you expecting with this launch?Peter Deng: We are doing this because we have learnt a lot of things around what our riders want. Now we have to verify that it works. Then we have to see ... how will we market this. So it is a long road. But this is the beginning of that long road and that long journey.

After Travis Kalanick's exit from Uber as the CEO, Uber has been revamping its leadership team. If I can call this set up Uber 2.0, what is its vision?

Manik Gupta: I wouldn't really label it as Uber 2.0. Dara Khosrowshahi is our CEO. He joined us in September last year and he has really re-energised the company. He has come in and looked very holistically at all the good stuff that exists and all the stuff that needs to be fixed.

If you talk about the vision, one of the big things that we are investing globally is this whole aspect of Uber as a platform. Uber started with cars, then we did pool, then recently we acquired a company in the US for bikes. We have continued to make these investments so that we can offer different types of modes of transportation in an end to end integrated experience.

The reason why we are talking about Uber Lite is that we want to remove all the barriers that any user might have to be able to get a ride.

How big is Uber's technology team in India? During his visit to India in February, Khosrowshahi said that the company will increase the number of engineers. What has been the increase so far and what are the plans going forward?

Manik Gupta: We have 150 people right now across two offices - Bangalore and Hyderabad. But these are not just engineering teams. They are full stack teams consisting of engineering, product design, data science, etc.

Now one example is Uber Lite, which was completely designed and built in India. These teams can really look at the local requirements, understand and empathise with the users. It is an absolutely important investment for us and like Dara said, we are focussed very heavily on growing the size of our teams over here because our model is working.

Initiatives such as cash payments and offline search were also introduced by Uber in India. What were the reasons behind these moves?

When I talk to many folks, the saying is, if this is going to work in India, it is going to work in the rest of the world. India is an important market for us. If we build here and are successful, that's great. That means it will be successful in a bunch of other countries around the world.

Manik Gupta: The other thing to keep in mind is that from a growth perspective, markets like India are super important for Uber. If we can continue to launch products that people can use, that is how we are going to grow as a company.

What is the market share you have in India?

Manik Gupta: We don't reveal market share numbers. But we are investing very heavily in this market.

Even as we speak, there has been a senior level exit in Uber. Bozoma Saint John, who was looking at the marketing division, has left the firm just a year after joining. Your comment on the development.

Manik Gupta: People make career decisions at a very personal level and that's just the nature of the game.  I do not think there is anything beyond that. As far as we are concerned, we are continuing to grow our team.

Peter Deng: What you don't hear about is all the people who are joining. There are plenty of good people who are very excited to come to work everyday.

It has been reported for a while now that SoftBank, investor in both Uber and Ola, is looking at merging the two companies. How will things work after a possible consolidation, if that happens?

Manik Gupta: We have to focus on customers. We want to make sure that we are doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of our users and that's all we need to focus on.

But can you comment on the consolidation part?Manik Gupta: There's nothing to announce.
First Published on Jun 12, 2018 06:41 pm