Uber plans to ride out of stable Singapore, move APAC HQ to high-tension Hong Kong

Ride-sharing monster doesn't operate in current home, is illegal in special administrative region


Uber has proposed moving its Asia-Pacific headquarters from Singapore to Hong Kong.

Yes, that Hong Kong: the one wracked by months of pro-democracy protests, the coronavirus, and this week news that China plans to give itself the power to deploy its security forces in the special administrative region.

Having stared down regulators everywhere in its early years, Uber is seemingly unafraid of the move.

"Like any other business, we are watching the situation closely. It's a bit early to speculate what may or may not happen," said Uber's general manager for Hong Kong, Estyn Chung, at a news conference.

One of the things Uber would like to happen is for its services to be made legal in Hong Kong. The company's ride-sharing operations are still technically illegal and continue to face fierce resistance from the local taxi industry.

"Uber is ready to move its regional headquarters to Hong Kong... but regulatory certainty is key," Chung said. "It's time for the government to regulate ride-sharing so we can bring jobs and investment to Hong Kong."

Chung said that the move is contingent on the city's regulatory policies changing and that no decision has yet been made. "It's simply not possible for any business to make significant investments without regulatory certainty," he said.

"We're asking the government and community leaders to sit with us and hear our vision and investment plan for Hong Kong, so together we can find a pathway to regulate ride-sharing."

The company is expected to formally approach the government with its proposal in the next few days. If all goes well, the move is expected some time next year.

Singapore is a slightly odd place to headquarter Uber's Asian operations given that the company does not operate in the country. In 2018, Uber sold its Southeast Asian operations to local rival Grab, which is also based in Singapore, for a 27.5 per cent stake in the new combined business.

Alongside the announcement, Uber also said 600 heads would roll from its Indian office due to the "impact of COVID-19 and the unpredictable nature of the recovery". The cuts come as part of plans announced earlier this month to lay off more than 3,000 workers and close 45 offices globally.

The new headquarters will oversee nine countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. The company has no plans to reopen its operations in Southeast Asia. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Enemies Waymo, Uber now friends making self-driving-ish trucks for US highways
    When you think about it, it makes cents

    Waymo and Uber announced on Tuesday a "long-term strategic partnership" promising to work together to deploy autonomous freight trucks on US roads, years after both companies fought bitterly over self-driving technology. 

    The collaboration will see Waymo retrofitting trucks with its AI-powered driving software operating on Uber's logistics and network infrastructure. Shippers can tap into the Uber Freight service to connect with truckers willing to deliver their goods across the country. Vehicles running the Waymo Driver software will be able to complete part of the journey autonomously, although human drivers will still need to be present.

    "With trucking, we plan to first tackle highway driving," a spokesperson from Waymo told The Register. "It's a natural environment to start this deployment due to the large number of highway miles, which are often the most tiring stretches for humans to drive, and which are a large opportunity to improve efficiency in the industry."

    Continue reading
  • Indian government accuses Uber of jacking up prices for loyal customers
    Six ride sharing companies forced into consumer redress scheme

    India has accused ride-sharing companies of over-charging loyal customers who regularly take the same route, and directed six platforms to become part of a scheme that offers third-party grievance handling services.

    The directive to join the scheme was issued during a meeting with officials of India's Department of Consumer Affairs, attended by Ola, Uber, Rapido, Meru Cabs and Jugnoo. The platforms were advised to improve responses to customer concerns and rights and directed to become "convergence partners" in India's National Consumer Helpline. Such partners are required to accept and resolve consumer grievances reported to the Helpline.

    The Department said ride-sharing companies need to sign up for the helpline for reasons including that their algorithms set fares in ways that are not easy to understand – sometimes even charging loyal customers higher rates than first-timers on the same route.

    Continue reading
  • Uber, Meta to reduce hiring as stocks slide
    Is winter coming already for the US tech sector?

    Some tech companies are tightening their belts as they adjust to ongoing financial turbulence, with Uber and Meta both looking to reduce expenses and hiring.

    Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told employees in an internal email that the ride-hailing service is going to try harder to stop losing so much money. Khosrowshahi's email, obtained by CNBC's Deirdre Bosa, begins, "It's clear that the market is experiencing a seismic shift and we need to react accordingly."

    The memo says hiring will be more cautious and promises cost cutting.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022