Twitter eyes local talent in science, tech, engineering and maths

Returning Singaporean Mr Linus Lee will head Twitter’s data science team in Singapore.
Returning Singaporean Mr Linus Lee will head Twitter’s data science team in Singapore. ST PHOTO: IRENE THAM

SINGAPORE - First, it was Google. Now, another tech giant, Twitter, wants to nab top talent in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) in Singapore.

Twitter has plans to set up its first data science engineering team outside the United States in Singapore this year.

It held its first tech talk with over 240 potential candidates on Thursday (May 19).

The social media network giant wants to hire up to 10 data scientists to develop new products for major markets such as Japan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brazil.

Returning Singaporean Linus Lee, 29, will head the firm's data science team in Singapore.

He told The Straits Times: "There is a deep talent pool here with the vibrant start-up scene."

Specifically, the firm is looking for candidates with a background in Stem, coding and statistics.

Mr Lee was in Singapore this week to meet potential recruits and said the country's pro-business policies were among the reasons for the data science team locating here. "We are looking to hire Singaporeans and will transfer data science knowledge from Silicon Valley."

His team here is being tasked with developing business plans and products to increase the number of Twitter's monthly active users, now at 310 million globally.

The work includes deriving insights from data such as consumer behaviour and the stability of Internet connections from country to country.

Singapore Economic Development Board executive director of infocomms and media Kiren Kumar said: "Such frontier digital jobs will provide Singaporeans with the growth opportunities they need to compete on the global stage."

The Singapore Government expects more than 2,600 such positions to be available next year.

After spending a decade studying and working in California's Silicon Valley, Mr Lee will be moving back here with his Singaporean wife and one-year-old son this year.

He was among the first data scientists hired by Twitter in San Francisco four years ago.

Prior to that, he was an algorithmic trader at brokerage firm Gray Whale Capital and a data analyst at investment bank Barclays Capital, both in San Francisco.

Twitter established its Asia-Pacific headquarters at the CapitaGreen building in Shenton Way last June and has since increased its workforce in Singapore to about 100.

Its expansion in Singapore comes on the heels of similar plans by Google to set up a large engineering presence in the country.

 
 

In February, Google acquired local messaging start-up Pie and added the latter's nine engineers to its workforce to kick-start its local tech team. But it is not known how many software engineers will be hired.

Social networking site Facebook's Asian operations are also based in Singapore, but it too would not reveal its tech headcount.

National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said news of Internet giants expanding here will encourage more people to acquire the necessary Stem training for future jobs.

"Every company must apply technology to remain relevant in the future economy," he said.