Hot potato: Uber reported a profitable first quarter in November 2021, expressing optimism about its future. However, the company still hasn’t managed to shake off the tarnished image of the early years, and a new leak is bringing it back into the spotlight just as things are on the mend.

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A significant leak dubbed the “Uber files” has sparked a flurry of media reports about an alleged house of cards built by the company in its striving for profit. According to The keeperwhich gained exclusive access to more than 124,000 sensitive files, the man who wanted to expose the ridesharing giant was Mark McGann, the former chief lobbyist for Uber.

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During the interview, McGann spoke about the company’s journey under the former CEO. Travis Kalanick was rife with crime. Between 2014 and 2016, key Uber employees and executives at the highest levels joked about the company’s “illegal status” and openly discussed dubious growth strategies internally.

This theme was the same for 83,000 emails, as well as iMessage and WhatsApp messages. Many of them show how Uber allegedly had a system for get around the law in several countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, South Africa and Russia. One leader even warned that because “we are illegal in many countries, we should avoid antagonistic statements.”

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In comparison, law enforcement agencies in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania and India launched several raids on Uber offices to stop activities that were considered illegal in their countries. In response, Uber flipped a so-called internal “switch” that prevented the authorities from accessing any corporate data.

One executive noted in an email that “we are officially pirates.” Nairi Khurdajian, who was Uber’s head of global communications at the time, made it clear that these questionable tactics and protocols were sanctioned by the legal department. during internal discussion.

A spokesman for Kalanick told The Guardian that the “kill switch” was designed for a different purpose and “should never have been used”. The company stopped using the tool in 2017 when Dara Khosrowshahi replaced Kalanick as CEO.

Interestingly, Uber seems to be acknowledging the wrongdoings committed between 2013 and 2017, but the company also wants to get rid of that negative image that continues to garner media attention.

AT statementJill Hazelbaker, senior vice president of marketing and public relations at Uber, explains: “We have not and will not condone past behavior that is clearly inconsistent with our current values. Instead, we’re asking the public to judge us by what we’ve done in the last five years and what we’ll be doing in the coming years.”

To Uber’s credit, over the past few years, under the leadership of Dara Khosrowshahi, the course has been on the right track. More than 90 percent of its employees are relatively new individuals who joined after Khosrowshahi became CEO and the company has made efforts to comply regulations and improve driver and driver safety.

However, this new leak comes just a few months after Uber profitability and showed signs of growth in areas previously hit hard by the pandemic. It took four years of hard work to get there, so it’s easy to see why Uber wants us all to forget what is considered “one of the most infamous calculations in corporate American history.”

Hazelbaker notes that CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has changed the company’s values ​​and corporate culture for the better. “We have moved from an era of confrontation to an era of cooperation, demonstrating a willingness to sit down at the negotiating table and find common ground with former adversaries, including trade unions and taxi companies. We are currently regulated in over 10,000 cities around the world. by working at all levels of government to improve the lives of those who use our platform and the cities we serve.”

If you’re wondering why McGann released the Uber files, he says the company “sold people lies.” He admits he was involved in oiling the wheels of Uber’s growth car, talking to governments and telling people that the rule change would bring huge benefits to drivers.

As the public face of Uber between 2014 and 2016, McGann was tasked with extolling the big economic opportunity of the gig economy, but has since reversed his stance on the matter. He explains that “when that turned out not to be the case – we actually sold people lies – how can you have a clear conscience if you don’t stand up and acknowledge your contribution to the way people are being treated today?”

Of course, things get a little more complicated if you don’t pay attention to the revelations. After McGann left Uber, he quietly began a legal dispute regarding his wages during his tenure at the sharing giant. As a result of winning a lawsuit, he was recently awarded €585,000 in unpaid bonuses. This raises the question of whether McGann only felt compelled to share these revelations after Uber paid compensation.

Meanwhile, The Guardian dug into Uber’s files and found evidence that the company paid several top scientists to publish studies that cast the gig economy model in a positive light. For example, one French academic received a €100,000 consulting fee to use carefully curated Uber data to publish an article showing how ridesharing is a way to create well-paid jobs and a cheap and convenient transportation option for people living in the suburbs. .

The report also glossed over important details, such as the fact that drivers had to subtract operating expenses such as fuel, vehicle maintenance and insurance from their supposedly impressive gross income. In essence, Uber has succeeded in creating a narrative that a ridesharing company with huge losses can bring incredible innovation to the gig economy.

As you might expect, Uber denies any wrongdoing. The company says the research paper in question made it clear that the “payout” figures do not account for drivers’ costs. In addition, he denies hiding the nature of his relationship with sponsored scientists and explains that the datasets were made available to scientists wishing to review relevant studies.

Image credit: Viktor Avdeev, Catalog of Thoughts