Uber is shutting its Singapore office and moving its Asia-Pacific headquarters to another country, as part of drastic cost-cutting measures to deal with the economic impact of COVID-19 on its core ride-hailing business.
The ride-hailing giant does not operate in Southeast Asia after it sold its local operations to rival Grab in 2018, but uses Singapore as a base to run its APAC business, covering nine countries: Australia, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
It opened an office at Fraser Towers in April 2019, when it was reported to have around 165 employees. The business said this week its decision to close Singapore will affect 120 staff, some of which lose their jobs. It is unclear what will happen to the remainder of staff—they may be offered jobs in its new APAC hub.
In an email to employees, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said that the company will move to a new Asia-Pacific hub “in a market where we operate our services”. It has not yet revealed where.
In a statement sent to Campaign, an Uber spokesperson said: “We intend to move our operational headquarters from Singapore to a new regional location in the next 12 months. We are currently finalizing the details on the move, and will share them soon.”
Singapore is one of 45 offices globally that Uber plans to shut down, affecting more than 3,000 employees, as part of a drastic slim-lining of its business to deal with the impact of COVID-19.
Khosrowshahi said in the email to staff that Uber's ride-hailing business—which drives the majority of its revenue—dropped 80% in April as countries around the world have implemented lockdown measures. While the company's food delivery service Uber Eats is “doing great", the CEO said, this is not offsetting the declines elsewhere.
In early May, it was reported that Uber was planning to lay off around 700 employees in India, where it reportedly employs a total of 2,000 staff.
As part of the measures, Uber said it will also wind down its artificial intelligence lab and product incubator and is looking at pursuing strategic alternatives for its shift-work platform Uber Works in order to focus on its “core mobility and delivery platforms", Khosrowshahi said.