BENGALURU: Peter Deng joined Uber in the midst of the top management churn in the San Francisco-based ride sharing company seven months ago. He was previously at Facebook, where he was responsible for heading product roles at Oculus VR, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook itself. At Uber, Deng leads a team of 250 engineers, designers, and product managers, including those in India, and takes care of the user experience, and core design experience on the app. Excerpts from an interaction with TOI:
How different has India been for Uber?
India is a hugely important market for us. There are specific challenges that we face in India and in countries like Brazil or Mexico. Like cash as a way of working, phones being on the older side, or network being intermittent. Because India is growing so quickly, roads and infrastructure are changing and we need to stay on top of the mapping to deliver data more accurately. It’s a good challenge to have.
Is that how India-first features like cash payments emerged?
Cash started here and that was a huge insight for us. The team I work with is called global rider access. The Indian team went to markets like Brazil and Mexico to see what could be built not just in India but globally. We can build something once, and then make it scale. If you start looking at people’s needs, some people are just not interested in downloading the app, but they still are interested in getting the ride. There are people who have phones that cannot download the app. Those are the people we are going after.
Some of the new features were built entirely in India…
A lot of the features like cash payment, web experience, and call-to-ride have been built purely here. But we are quite cross-functional as a team. We collaborate very closely. But it is important to have a clear charter for the team in Bengaluru. They own the specifications and products but they are informed by the insights globally. They build for the world.
What improvements in the service can we expect in the times to come?
We are making sure that we provide consistent ETAs (expected time of arrival), that we make experiences reliable. There is a bunch of things in the app that we are constantly testing and improving.
You came in when Uber was going through a churn in the top management. How challenging was that?
There has been an impact, but we are all very excited about where we are and everyone comes to work thinking about how to build more innovative products. The management has changed but the vision is exactly the same.
How different is the Uber workplace compared to Facebook?
I love both companies. I think there is a saying in SIlicon Valley, you really just work for one company and that’s Silicon Valley and you just change companies once in a while. It’s a moment of pride when people come up to me and say, ‘I use WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Uber,’ and I say that’s great because I have worked with all of them. We are all trying to make people’s lives better in different ways. And I’ve been fortunate to work on different problems.