Grab opens seventh R&D centre, located in Malaysia
By Digital News Asia December 10, 2018
- Doubles tech headcount since end 2017; plans to hire for another 1,000 tech roles in 2019
- Plans to hire 100 tech employees for its KL R&D centre in its first year of operations
GRAB, the leading Online-to-Offline (O2O) mobile platform in Southeast Asia, on Dec 10 announced the opening of its new Research and Development (R&D) centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the company was first founded in 2012.
The R&D centre is Grab’s seventh, and an extension to its global R&D footprint that already includes teams based in Bangalore, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Seattle and Singapore.
The Kuala Lumpur centre underlines Grab’s commitment to nurturing deep tech talent in its home region.
Grab plans to hire 100 tech employees for its Kuala Lumpur R&D centre in its first year of operations, including software engineers, data scientists and data analysts. The team will focus on developing and enhancing real-time communications features such as VOIP calls via GrabChat, building new and exciting web products for Grab, and improving and developing new safety measures through machine learning.
One example of how Grab uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance safety is its Driver Fatigue feature, that calculates a “fatigue score” based on factors like how long the driver has been on the road, time of day, rest between shifts and even his or her age and profile. When a driver hits a high fatigue threshold, they will be sent a notification to take a break.
Grab head of Engineering Ditesh Gathani, says, “As one of the engineers during the early days of Grab, it is exciting to establish an R&D centre in Malaysia to continue tapping into the rich talent pool that is available here. In addition to that, this also enables us to contribute towards developing and nurturing the deep tech talent in the country, particularly in areas like machine learning.
“We hope that through Grab, Malaysia’s top tech talent will have the opportunity to put their skills to bear against solving complex, real-world issues right here at home. At the same time, have the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best tech minds in the world.”
Since end of 2017 Grab has doubled its tech headcount across its six R&D centres,and plans to add 1,000 new tech roles in 2019. Grab’s expansion of its R&D network will support its continued growth and evolution as it moves to become the first everyday super app in Southeast Asia.
This year alone Grab has seen accelerated expansion into payments, as well as new verticals such as food, grocery and parcel deliveries. Grab has also expanded its presence from 30 cities at the start of 2017 to 235 cities today.
In Malaysia, Grab is in more than 30 major cities and townships across the country.
While the majority of the team will continue to work on core transport projects, the growth in Grab’s tech bench will fuel continued development of GrabPlatform, a suite of APIs for partners to integrate their services with Grab, as the company prepares to see a surge in partnerships and services over the next 12 months.
Grab is also boosting its AI capabilities as it aims to leverage on its data - one of the largest datasets of Southeast Asia - not only to improve and develop new services, but also to solve some of the region’s most complex challenges such as congestion and financial inclusion.
Grab chief technology officer Theo Vassilakis (pic), says “At Grab, we don’t build tech for tech’s sake. We build to solve problems, to create opportunities, to lift people and economies. That’s why we continue to fortify our team and invest in talent, to meet the scale of our ambition and the challenges we want to solve.
“Our decision to establish an R&D centre in Malaysia is an extension of our philosophy of developing highly localized solutions in the countries where our consumers live, while tapping into the best specialised tech talent around the world.”
Grab’s model of distributed engineering teams allows the company to access specific sets of expertise in each of its R&D centres around the world, such as machine learning, predictive data analytics, mobile-first technology, and consumer-focused user experience.
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