In between raising more money, fighting Lyft and regulators, and denying it will investigate journalists, Uber’s global expansion continues. To spearhead its mobile growth, Uber is setting up a mobile development shop in Amsterdam, led by one of its earliest employees and staffed by a set of new hires: a team of Dutch developers who
originally worked on Uber’s Spotify integration and that have served as advisors to the company since 2009.
(Update: Uber clarifies that it was a team in California that was in charge of the Spotify project.)
Uber is expected to announce the mobile push in Amsterdam later today, along with the news that the office will be headed by Uber’s first engineer (and employee number two), Conrad Whelan.
In the meantime, Netherlands blog iCulture has published more details. It reports that Uber has effectively taken on 10 former employees from Dutch firm Moop.me, including the founder Jelle Prins, who will oversee design, while Whelan will run engineering.
Uber has not acquired the whole agency. (“There is no question of a takeover,” Prins tells iCulture.)
That’s partly because Moop functions as a collective of engineers and designers. And while the team moving to Uber have worked on other transportation apps, Moop’s people have also taken on other projects that have very little synergy with what Uber is today. Those projects, and Moop, will continue.
In the meantime, it sounds as if Uber is going to tackle the process of building up that new office with typical Uber aggression.
The aim is to build the team out “to up to 30 people within a year and more in the years ahead,” Whelan says. Some of those may come from the community of developers in the city or elsewhere in Europe; others will come from Uber’s HQ in San Francisco.
Projects on the mobile roadmap include more global improvements to both the rider and driver apps; developing the integrations for future partnerships; and probably other features that Uber does not want to divulge to nosey journalists.
Uber’s European shift, and hiring a whole team from another startup to fuel it, are not unprecedented moves.
In 2013, Facebook set up an engineering outpost in London headed by Lars Rasmussen. That team works on existing services like Graph Search but also interesting projects still in stealth, such as FB@Work.
And just last month, we uncovered how Apple hired the bulk of the team of defunct UK mapping app Pin Drop. Similarly to Uber and Moop, Apple did not outright acquire the bigger app shop, Caffeinehit, that made the app.
The fact that the Moop team was already based in Amsterdam, and apparently didn’t want to make the move to the U.S., is part of the reason why Uber decided to bring the mountain to Mohammed. The other is that Amsterdam also happens to be the location of the company’s international headquarters.
“We’re also using Amsterdam as our European Headquarters, so it made sense to also have engineering there,” Whelan explained.
But as flat as the lowlands may be, they are not without drama.
Amsterdam has been one of the many cities where regulators have attempted to shut down some of the company’s services. In this case, the controversy had to do with Uber’s use of “amateur” drivers — those not licensed as taxi professionals. Officials posed as casual passengers in a sting operation that netted fines for four drivers working under Uber’s basic service. Uber Black and Uber Lux drivers and services have been unaffected.