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Alejandro Chouza, Uber’s Northwest GM; Caleb Weaver, Uber’s Public Affairs manager; and Marcus Womack, Uber’s Seattle engineering office site lead. (GeekWire photo / Taylor Soper)

The local roots of new Uber leaders Dara Khosrowshahi and Barney Harford are helping the transportation giant recruit talent for its growing Seattle engineering office.

Uber employs 200 people at its 3-year-old downtown Seattle office, one of the company’s largest engineering hubs that leaders describe as a “microcosm” of its San Francisco headquarters. Engineers in Seattle work on a variety of technologies ranging from driver compliance to fleet management to airport logistics.

Uber plans to hire more than 50 additional engineers this year as it battles giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and others for tech talent in a hyper-competitive hiring market in Seattle. It recently hired former Axon executive Marcus Womack to lead its Seattle hub.

Khosrowshahi joined Uber this past August as its new CEO. Harford came on in December as the company’s COO.

Both have ties to the Seattle region. Khosrowshahi was previously CEO of Expedia, the $16 billion travel giant headquartered in Bellevue, Wash. that will relocate to Seattle next year. Harford worked at Expedia for several years and was most recently CEO of Orbitz, which Expedia acquired in 2015.

“It’s helped that Dara and Barney have been working here. They’re very well respected,” said Alejandro Chouza, Uber’s new Pacific Northwest leader. “At a local level, we are seeing a lot of people say they’ve worked with Dara in the past or heard great things, and that has benefited us.”

Dara Khosrowshahi speaks at the 2016 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo)

Chouza previously led Uber’s operations in Northwest Mexico and replaced longtime Uber Seattle leader Brooke Steger. He wants to follow the lead of Khosrowshahi, who has helped curb the company’s traditionally brash and aggressive tone.

“His style of leadership and how he approaches every decision with integrity, transparency, very humble — I think that has permeated all aspects of the company,” Chouza said.

Uber also employs 50 people at a separate operations office in Seattle, where the company now has more than 15,000 active drivers and more than 800,000 active riders as of December 2017. Uber has grown the number of trips across the city by 68 percent over the past two years. The company said drivers in Seattle made $230 million before expenses in 2017.

That growth comes as the company continues to face local legal battles, the most recent being potential legislation that will raise the minimum base fare for Uber and Lyft riders.

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