Uber ‘doubling down’ on investments in India: COO Barney HarfordBy Rajat Arora, ET Bureau|Sep 03, 2018, 08.18 AM IST
Tokyo: Uber is “doubling down” on its investment in India as the company looks to rapidly expand in the market, chief operating officer Barney Harford told ET in an interview.
“India is absolutely a key market. We are doubling down on our investments in the country like never before. We are making critical investments. India is vital to our goal as a global tech company,” Harford said, adding that Uber was looking at a long and successful future in India.
“The deal with Grab in Southeast Asia has freed up a lot of capital, which we are redirecting to India. That means renewed investments on product and partnerships in India,” he added.
When asked whether there is a possibility of merger between Ola and Uber, given that SoftBank is the investor in both the ride hailing apps, Harford said, “We have no intention of doing a minority deal elsewhere. We believe in controlling our own destiny in India”.
Uber exchanged its Southeast Asia operations for a 27.5% stake in local ride-hailing business Grab.
Harford said Uber was in a very strong position in India and the company continues to see healthy growth across both Eats and Rides businesses. Uber recently crossed the one billion trips mark in India.
“We are rapidly expanding to bring more and more mobility options at affordable price-points to cities. These include promoting bike sharing through uberMOTO. We are also seeing India contribute to developing solutions like uberLITE, cash or digital payment solutions that can impact the world.”
Harford said the ride hailing app is investing heavily in research and resources in India along with hiring young engineering talent from the country.
He said if the Indian government allowed private ride sharing, the move could heavily reduce the congestion and pollution in cities.
“Private ride sharing has the potential to reduce private car ownership in Delhi by 68%,” the Uber COO said.
Harford said the recent reforms made by the government in the transport sector, including liberalising the taxi permits, were very positive.
“Progress on liberalising permits and discussions around connected, shared mobility in forums like the upcoming Move summit are an encouraging sign,” he added.
(The reporter was in Tokyo at the invitation of Uber)
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