Grab’s presence in Seattle continues to grow as the Southeast Asia ride-hailing giant today announced the hiring of Amazon veteran Mark Porter.
Porter spent the past five years helping manage Amazon’s database services and was previously an executive at Oracle. At Grab, he’ll fill a new role as CTO of the company’s Transport business, which includes private car hires, taxi-hailing, motorbike taxis, carpooling, multimodal services and more.
Porter will work out of Grab’s Seattle R&D center, which opened in 2016 and has grown to 100 employees. In July, Grab opened another engineering office in Bellevue, just east of Seattle and nearby the headquarters of Microsoft, which recently announced an investment in Grab. The company will have 140 employees spread across both offices by the end of the year.
“We are leveraging the deep technical bench in the Seattle area to develop groundbreaking tech in machine learning and analytics at scale,” Porter told GeekWire. “The Seattle teams then use those technologies for User Trust, natural language processing, and our most important initiative, Safety.”
Grab, valued at $11 billion, is available in 235 cities across eight countries and offers an array of services beyond traditional ride-hailing, including food delivery, bike-sharing, payments, and financial services. Its investors include SoftBank, Toyota, Hyundai, and Didi. Grab acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia business earlier this year.
Grab processes 20TB of data each day, Grab CTO Theo Vassilakis said in a statement.
“Grab is looking at harnessing our data insights on multiple levels — first to deliver a more seamless, personalized and intuitive experience to our customers, second to create smarter and more efficient transport services across Southeast Asia, and third to work with cities to optimise traffic and multi-modal solutions by studying commuting patterns,” he said.
Milind Mahajan, a Microsoft and Twitter veteran, heads up the Seattle R&D operations. Raman Narayanan, another longtime Microsoftie who held the title of Distinguished Engineer at the Redmond tech giant, is Grab’s chief technology advisor and also works out of the Seattle office. Former Google senior engineer Steve Yegge joined Grab’s Seattle team earlier this year; he detailed his optimism for Grab in this blog post.
Grab is one of more than 100 out-of-town tech companies that have established engineering centers in the Seattle region. Uber and Lyft, which operate similar businesses, also have engineering offices in town.