Google on hiring drive to set up Singapore hub

Internet giant recruiting software engineers to support goal of reaching next billion users

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, on Nov 13, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tech giant Google, which has often been rated as one of the most desirable employers in the world, is on a hiring spree in Singapore.

It wants to set up its first large team of software engineers here to support its goal of reaching the next billion Internet users. There were an estimated 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide as of last year.

The planned Singapore engineering hub will be the latest addition to Google's three engineering hubs in Hyderabad in India, Sydney in Australia, and Mountain View in the United States.

"We are establishing a large engineering presence in Singapore," said Google on the recruitment page of its website. "With its central location in Asia, diverse demographic and a strong pool of technical talent, Singapore is well suited to be a key engineering hub," it said in the Jan 26 post.

It is not known how many software engineers will be hired.

The Singapore hub's initial focus will be to develop software that works on the Google Android operating system, which powers many of the smartphones and tablets in the world.

The Singapore software engineers will also work on next-generation technologies in areas such as mobile data management, local communities, payments and commerce. Other areas include connectivity, job search and education.

The new products and services will be designed with users in emerging markets - starting with India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brazil - in mind.

Google's Singapore office, which is its Asia-Pacific business headquarters, started with only eight people in 2007 and has primarily been focusing on business development, sales and marketing. It now has more than 200 employees.

Mr Ian Gregory, co-founder of local game developer Witching Hour Studios, believes mobile app developers will flock to Google.

After all, Google is known for its creative measures to boost staff welfare, such as providing a free flow of food at work and having flexible work arrangements.

"It will be great for local developers to work in an international environment and draw on the experience of the more senior staff," Mr Gregory said.

Smaller firms are taking the challenge from Google in their stride.

Mr Adrian Ng, founder and director of six-year-old app development firm Codigo, recognised that keeping talent is hard for any company. "But I've learnt to reward the top performers well, and this has always worked for me," said Mr Ng, whose company has come up with apps for McDonald's, ComfortDelGro and DBS Bank.

Mr Clement Teo, a senior analyst at market research firm Forrester, said the impact of Google's hiring drive on the job market here remains to be seen.

"Whether it will compete with smaller local companies for talent depends on whether Google is hiring from a limited (Singaporean) talent pool," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline Google on hiring drive to set up Singapore hub. Subscribe