Home / Companies / Rent.com’s Amit Jain to head Uber in India

Taxi hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. has hired Amit Jain, president of US-based real estate portal Rent.com, to head its India operations. Uber confirmed Jain’s appointment by email.

“Amit will be running all business strategy, operations, and growth in a market of global strategic importance for Uber," an Uber spokesperson said, adding that he is a “a proven leader and strategist with a depth of experience in consulting and leading operations for multinational companies".

US-based Uber, which is set to become the world’s most valuable venture-backed start-up, is seeking to improve relations with regulators and catch up with local rival Ola. Jain will join Uber as president of its India operations and relocate to Gurgaon to expand the firm’s team.

“Amit embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and culture at Uber. His experience as an operator, building and scaling world-class teams will be invaluable as we enter the next phase of Uber India’s growth. Success in India is a global priority for us, and I know Amit’s leadership and passion for Uber’s mission will be transformational as we redefine urban mobility for hundreds of millions of Indians," said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick through a spokesperson.

Of late, many Indian-origin professionals have shifted to India’s booming start-up world from California’s Silicon Valley, the global nerve centre of tech-related activity.

“I am very excited at the opportunity to lead Uber India," Jain said in a email response. “Uber is one of the fastest growing companies in the world and is radically changing the way people commute every day. In India, Uber is helping create tens of thousands of new jobs, empowering drivers with higher earnings potential and flexible work hours, and providing millions of consumers with a safe, reliable and convenient mode of transport." An alumnus of IIT Delhi and Stanford University, Jain has previously worked with TPG Capital, Nexeo Solutions and McKinsey & Co., Uber said.

After receiving large sums of venture capital, Indian e-commerce firms, led by Flipkart Ltd, are increasingly hiring established technology talent from Silicon Valley to boost their tech expertise and add experienced professionals to their management team. Flipkart and other top e-commerce firms such as Snapdeal.com and Ola now offer attractive compensation and challenging work required to lure senior tech professionals.

Mint first reported on 11 March that Uber was looking for a chief of its India business, creating a new position in the company that is currently run by independent city teams. Uber runs its India business—as well as its operations in other countries—through city teams, all of which have separate heads. The city leaders report to Hong Kong-based Allen Penn, head of Asia operations at Uber.

The mobile-app only service entered India in August 2013 by launching its premium UberBlack service in Bengaluru. Since then, it has expanded to other cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune. The company has also launched two cheaper services that have increased the app’s usage.

While convenience and user-friendly features of the app have made it popular, Uber has faced one regulatory hurdle after another. Before the ban in Delhi, Uber was forced to overhaul its payment model after the Reserve Bank of India disallowed automatic payment through credit cards. Uber, which until then accepted payments only through credit cards, launched a payment wallet in collaboration with Paytm in November 2014.

Then the Union government said Uber and other cab aggregators, including Ola, were liable to pay service tax when it defined the term aggregator in the recent budget. Now, all cab aggregators, which didn’t pay service tax until recently, potentially face a large tax burden. Apart from India, Uber has is facing similar issues in other countries, including South Korea, Germany and Thailand.

Uber is also in danger of being a distant second to rival Ola, which strengthened its leadership position by buying smaller rival TaxiForSure for $200 million earlier this week. Ola is also in early talks to raise at least $500 million in fresh funds, after receiving $400 million in April, Mint reported on 21 May.

Uber, which was founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, is one of the fastest growing venture-backed private firms in the world. It is in talks to raise fresh funds at an estimated valuation of $50 billion, which would make it the world’s most valued start-up, the Wall Street Journal reported on 9 May.

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