Leaks reveal Uber’s aggressive business practices | Free press

Uber relied on aggressive international expansion, especially in the beginning. Emails and chats that have become public now provide insight into the tactics.


Emails and chats from shipping service provider Uber in 2013-2017, which went public, provide deeper insight into the company’s aggressive business practices at the time. According to media reports based on internal communications on Monday, Uber tried to use clashes between taxi drivers and their chauffeurs for lobbying purposes and blocked computers remotely during official raids in European cities.

More than 124,000 documents such as emails and chat messages were leaked to the UK newspaper Guardian. The former Uber manager revealed himself as a source after publication. Mark McGann was a lobbyist for a car service broker in Europe. He chose to act as a whistleblower because he believed Uber was deliberately breaking the law. “I am partially responsible,” he told the Guardian. It was he who tried to convince governments and the public about the benefits of the Uber model. Now he has a guilty conscience: “We actually sold people a lie.”

Aggressive international expansion in the first days

The documents date from a time when Uber led an aggressive international expansion under the leadership of co-founder and then-boss Travis Kalanick. In the beginning, the company, which was founded in 2008, also tried to partially introduce its American model in Europe, in which private individuals transport passengers in their own cars. Uber dropped the practice after regulators intervened, but tensions with the taxi industry and authorities have remained high over the years. Since Dara Khosrowshahi took the top position at Uber in 2017, the company has repeatedly distanced itself from its predecessor’s business practices.

The company statement stated: “We do not and will not tolerate any past behavior that is clearly inconsistent with our present values. we will do it in the coming years. “

The documents document, among other things, how Uber organized a large counter-demonstration after protests against the company in France in 2016, with “15,000 drivers” and “50,000 customers,” Kalanick wrote in a chat message published by the Washington Post. So he downplayed the risk of possible aggressive behavior from the other side: “If we have 50,000 passengers, they will not and cannot do anything.” At the same time, he seemed to be taking a risk: “I think it’s worth it. Violence guarantees success. ”

Uber director Jill Hazelbaker wrote to the Washington Post: “There are many things our boss at the time said almost a decade ago that we would disagree with today.” But no one at Uber has ever been content with the violence against the driver. A spokesman for Kalanicka also replied that he had never suggested that Uber used violence against drivers.

Reports: Documented controversial use of software tools

According to reports, the documents also testify to the controversial use of two software tools that have been known for years. With a name called Greyball, regulators have adjusted the display in the Uber app at the location so that no vehicles are displayed. During the raid on Uber’s Amsterdam office, computers were remotely shut down using a “kill switch”.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and over 180 media journalists including Le Monde, El País and the Washington Post were involved in evaluating these so-called Uber files. In Germany, reporters from NDR, WDR and “Süddeutsche Zeitung” worked with us. (dpa)

Leave a Comment