Uber is no longer uncommon in cities, the driving service provider can now be found in many countries. But the company achieved this expansion with extremely dirty tricks and a lot of aggressive lobbying, as now evidenced by a massive leak. The British daily The guardian analyzed about 124,000 documents with the support of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). This dataset has been leaked to the well-known newspaper and contains emails, iMessages and WhatsApp messages from the top executives of the company, as well as memos, presentations, notebooks, briefing papers and invoices.
Aggressive Expansion of Uber
The data is from 2013 to 2017, a period when Uber aggressively pursued its global expansion. The Guardian: “They reveal how the company has broken the law, misled police and regulators, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments around the world.” There are also plenty of names, namely from Uber executives, but also from politicians. On the business side, founder Travis Kalanick is especially cast in a particularly bad light. He is said to have responded to protests by French taxi drivers with the phrase “Violence guarantees success”.
Several politicians also play a rather inglorious role, most notably French President Emmanuel Macron. He is said to have helped Uber during his time as transportation minister, and Uber and its lobbyists are said to have had a direct line to Macron’s office. Olaf Scholz is also mentioned in the “Uber Files”, but the company was rejected by the former mayor of Hamburg – after which Scholz was derided as a “real comedian”. FDP politician Otto Fricke, who is primarily responsible for the Uber lobbying campaign in Germany, will have to ask herself questions, and former EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes is said to have done unclean work when she made the move to the private sector.
Uber talks about the past
Uber has responded to the revelations on its website pronunciations published, not denying its murky past: “Five years ago, these failures culminated in one of the most infamous accounts in corporate American history. This account resulted in massive public attention, a string of high-profile lawsuits, several regulatory… investigations and the dismissal of several senior employees.”
Uber writes that this is exactly why “Uber has hired a new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, who is tasked with transforming every aspect of the way Uber works.” In short, today’s Uber has nothing to do with the company of the past. Travis Kalanick would prefer a spokesperson to say that the founder and boss never directly ordered or directed illegal activity, it’s essentially a long string of denials.
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