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Google builds a team to support 'next billion users' in Asia

A crew in Singapore will tackle the region's unique problems.

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To better serve its users in Southeast Asia, Google is creating its first engineering team dedicated to the region. To kick off the recruitment drive it's acquired Pie, a startup in Singapore that was developing a Slack-style service for workplace communications. Google says it's also on the lookout for new hires -- both graduates and experienced engineers -- to bulk up its team, and will be inviting its employees with "deep ties to Singapore" to consider relocating to the city. Students can also apply for a 12-week internship, although these will be taking place in Australia.

Why go to such lengths? Well, Google recognises that internet "first-timers" in Southeast Asia are often different to those in the US. Many use a low-cost smartphone as their primary computing device, for instance, rather than a laptop or PC. Internet connectivity can also be a problem, either because of its cost, speed or reliability. It makes sense, then, to build a team that's closer to these users and understands the cultural differences. A dedicated, local crew should be nimbler, reacting faster to the community and organically coming up with new, tailored ideas.

"That's why we're building a new engineering team in Singapore," Google's Caesar Sengupta said in a blog post. "To get closer to the next billion users coming online and to develop products that will work for them."

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