GrabTaxi, a ride-hailing company that dominates its native Southeast Asia, said on Wednesday that it’s opening its first U.S. office in Seattle.
The company said that the decision isn’t a sign that it intends to take on Uber in the U.S. Rather, it’s part of a push to add to its engineering team.
Former Microsoft engineer Raman Narayanan, who has joined GrabTaxi as a technical advisor, will head the new office and help with U.S. recruiting. The new Seattle office will work closely with GrabTaxi’s engineering team in Singapore, which is led by engineering vice president Arul Kumaravel, a veteran of the Seattle tech scene from his time spent in Amazon’s mobile division.
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GrabTaxi’s choice of Seattle—in addition to Singapore, it also has an R&D office in Beijing—takes advantage of the somewhat cheaper wages. While most people continue to view the San Francisco Area as the center of the tech industry, rising costs of living and a recruiting war that’s caused engineering salaries to skyrocket have led a growing number of companies pick Seattle as an alternative.
Being in the backyard of two of the biggest providers of cloud technology, Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT), also factored into the decision because GrabTaxi’s Seattle team will focused on the company’s infrastructure and cloud technology, a GrabTaxi spokesman told Fortune.
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GrabTaxi recently revealed it had teamed up with Uber’s U.S. rival, Lyft, as well as China’s Didi Kuaidi and India’s Ola, to form a network for sharing their collective customers. Through this new alliance, the companies’ respective customers can book rides through each other’s services while traveling, but without having to download new mobile apps. So in short, GrabTaxi is leaving the U.S. market to Lyft.