New revelations are expected in the coming days, derived from more than 124,000 confidential documents obtained by The Guardian.
The international taxi service Uber made use of influence groups, used personal political contacts and applied dubious methods from an ethical point of view and law to expand your business and limit labor rights in dozens of countries, according to a massive leak of data obtained by The Guardian.
The more than 124,000 documents confidential leaked to the media reveal the ‘modus operandi’ of the directors of the American company in its search for advantages over traditional taxi companies in the international markets and discover the involvement of important political leaders, including the current French president, Emmanuel Macron, and his American counterpart, Joe Biden.
“Violence is a guarantee of success”
The files cover the period between 2013 and 2017 and include more than 83,000 electronic messages, including unequivocal communications disputes between the then CEO, Travis Kalanick, and a group of senior managers, from which it is clear that the company was aware of how little immaculate their methods.
Thus, in one of the communications, Kalanick proposes to counteract the protests by taxi drivers in France against Uber —by reshape the market and crash prices—by sending taxi drivers to the demonstration, thus putting drivers at risk of being subjected to violence from workers angry. Given the concerns of the executives, the boss wrote that he believes “this is worth it” because “violence is a guarantee of success.”
The documents also include messages between Kalanick and Macron, who was then Minister of the Economy and who would have secretly helped Uber establish itself in his country, providing the company with frequent and direct access to him and his team, and even mediating agreements with those who opposed the business in government bodies.
The documents highlight the disdain expressed by Uber executives in relation to to certain politicians with whom they contacted. Thus, one of the executives calls Olaf Scholz, the current chancellor of Germany and then mayor of Hamburg, a “true comedian” for resisting the Uber influence groups and insist on minimum wages for taxi drivers.
Mention is also made of the late arrival of the then Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, at an Uber meeting within the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland). In this regard, Kalanick wrote to a colleague: “I have had my people let you know that every minute you are late is one minute less you will have with me”.
After the meeting with Kalanick, Biden seems to have modified his speech prepared for Davos, to include allusions to the company, stating that it would provide millions of workers “the freedom to work as many hours as they want and manage their own lives as they wish”.
One of the documents reveals that in order to overcome resistance to the implementation of their services, the company spent 90 million dollars in 2016 on lobbying and public relations. Uber’s strategy often involved bypassing mayors or transportation authorities, directly contacting people like the then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the boss of the Irish Government Enda Kenny or the British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne.
In addition to finding informal avenues of access to political leaders, the company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to renowned academics for publications that support Uber’s economic model.
“We must avoid making antagonistic statements”
Internal communications also show that company executives were aware of their company’s violation of laws in various countries, including Turkey, Spain, the Czech Republic, Sweden, France, Germany, and Russia.
“We are not legal in many countries, we should avoid making antagonistic statements cas,” one senior official wrote.
“We have officially become pirates,” another commented on Uber’s tactics aimed at avoiding law enforcement.
As Uber became the focus of attention of the Police and regulators in various countries, the company developed a method that could be legally defined as obstruction of the investigation : in the event of an Uber office being searched, managers issued urgent orders to the IT department to cut off access to the main databases of the company, in order to prevent the collection of evidence. According to leaked documents, this method was applied at least 12 times during raids in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, India, Hungary and Romania.
“Past behavior “
In her comment on the leak, Uber’s vice president for public relations, Jill Hazelbaker, admitted that before 2017 journalistic publications about her mistakes proliferated, although she pointed out that the company had transformed drastically since that year under the direction of CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
“We have neither given nor we will make excuses for past behaviors that are clearly not in line with our current values. Instead, we ask citizens to judge us by what we have done in the last five years and what we will do in the next”, he declared.
After conducting an investigation of the leaked documents, The Guardian shared the data with number rous media through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Therefore, dozens of international media are expected to publish in the coming days their own materials about a company that has become a services giant valued at 43,000 million dollars .