By Conor Myhrvold
Whether you’re on a street corner or at a bar with friends, signing up for Uber and taking your first ride only takes a matter of minutes. For our driver partners who are trusted to provide safe, reliable rides every day, the process to get on the road is a little more complex.
In a supply/demand marketplace like Uber, growth only happens when both sides of the business are healthy. This means our Supply Engineering teams are hard at work making sure people behind the wheel have the best tools to keep their business moving and meet the growing demand for rides.
Anant Gupta, Head of Supply Engineering, is obsessed with creating the best, most scalable earnings platform for our partners in over 330 cities (and counting!). Here’s Anant with a look inside the world of Supply Engineering at Uber.
What does Supply Engineering at Uber do?
Our team helps make partnering with Uber easier, more engaging and social, and more rewarding by building platforms and solving complex operational problems, at scale, and around the world. We engineer answers for questions like these:
- How do you manage, transcribe, and store documents from across the globe for our partners based on regulations in each city, region or country?
- How do you build engaging social features for partners that feel custom for 60 unique countries and cultures?
What’s a day-in-the-life like for a Supply Engineer?
Reliability is in the DNA of our business. Because driver partners may depend on us to make a living for themselves (and sometimes their families), a solid, yet adaptable infrastructure is critical to keeping the Uber platform running.
In order for this to happen, we focus on:
- Working with the Design, Product, and Operations teams to create an ideal user experience for our partners.
- Building and scaling secure backend infrastructure that can handle the complexities of a global marketplace (such as transcribing and storing sensitive documents).
- Building real-time communications platforms that deliver the most effective messages and drive engagement.
- Designing and implementing intelligent state machines that can handle the regulatory requirements and rules by city, country and region.
- Incorporating proper resilience, monitoring, and alerting to minimize the impact of internal issues on partners, and to quickly resolve outages.
- Working closely with Ops teams on the ground to make better internal tools and reduce manual inefficiencies.
Our team works on all aspects of the stack. For example, take our Vehicle Solutions program, which helps driver partners purchase cars through financing, discounts and rentals. This team built the whole back-end and front-end for a vehicle leasing company in a couple months.
What are some unique engineering challenges your team faces?
Every engineering challenge becomes a lot more interesting at scale. For instance, say you want to complete a standard background check on a prospective driver partner. At scale, this means we need to support multiple county, state, and federal level background checks within the United States, and even more globally. These pieces of data are some of the most sensitive, and it’s important to maintain trust and safety with our partners while moving them through the onboarding process as quickly as possible.
To develop a virtual system that can manage every state of the onboarding process and scale across multiple regulatory frameworks across the globe, we use tools like optical character recognition to immediately translate contents of a document (like a driver’s license or insurance policy number), and use machine learning to classify them.
That’s just one small step in a very large pipeline. Again, our biggest challenge from an engineering perspective is fully automated operational excellence in over 60 countries.
Anything else you’d like to share about Supply Engineering?
When I’m on a trip using Uber, I always ask a partner, “What’s your story? Why are you driving with Uber?” I’m always fascinated by the reasons they drive and the challenges they face. It’s a very direct connection and it makes me feel happy knowing that our team had a tangible impact on each trip that takes place.
We’ve given people a means of earning an income or even affording a car. The engineering we do has a lasting and tangible impact on culture and the physical world. You don’t get this anywhere else.
I’m proud to be part of the team that’s building a new way to work. And if you’re interested in working with us, email me directly at email@example.com or let us know you’re interested. I’d love to talk.
Check out more Supply Engineering profiles at the bottom of The People of #UberEng, Uber Engineering’s People Profile Page.