Thousands of leaked confidential files show a lot of bad behavior from the company. The files, which were originally shared with The Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, show a company that has knowingly broken laws, gone to extreme lengths to avoid justice, secretly lobbied governments, and used violence against drivers to drum up business.
More than 124,000 documents were leaked over a five-year period. Kalanick took an aggressive approach to bringing the ride-sharing service into cities around the world even though it would break local laws and taxi regulations.
The documents, which include 83,000 emails and 1,000 other files including conversations, reveal for the first time that the $90 million-a-year lobbying and public relations campaigns of the ride-sharing company were designed to disrupt the European taxi industry.
Under the leadership of Kalanick, many mistakes were made, but the new leader of the company was asked to transform every aspect of how it operates.
We won't make excuses for past behavior that isn't in line with our current values. She asked the public to judge them by what they have done over the past five years and what they will do in the future.
In the past five years, the company has continued to spend millions on lobbying and marketing campaigns so it can continue to treat its drivers as independent contractors. A shareholder proposal was shot down by the company.
When Kalanick resigned as CEO in the midst of a storm of concerns about the company's workplace culture, including allegations of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and bullying, it was the beginning of a new era for the company. Even though there have been violent protests and attacks on drivers for years, the company has continued to operate.
We are going to break down some of the things in the files.
The city of Paris was the first European city to fight against the new tech company. Taxi drivers in France staged protests. The minister for the economy at the time, who had just been appointed, thought that the company could help create new jobs. The files show that after meeting with the company's lobbyists, he became a champion for the interests of the company.
The meeting was described by Mark MacGann asspectacular. "Lots of work to come, but we'll dance soon."
The files show that the two met at least four times, including in Paris and at the World Economic Forum.
The openness and welcome that the company received was unusual in government-industry relations.
The two companies worked together to rewrite France's laws regarding its services. Unlicensed drivers could offer rides at a discounted price on the new service. Even though the service was banned by the government, it continued to operate as it challenged the law.
An email from Kalanick toMacron says thatUber will give an outline for a regulatory framework. A feasible proposal that could become the formal framework in France will be connected to each team.
According to the files, in June 2015, the taxi driver protests became violent, and in a text to Kalanick, he said that he would gather everyone next week to prepare the reform. On the same day, there was a suspension of the ride hailing service in France. The decree was signed by the president later that year.
During his time in the service sector, he was able to meet and interact with many companies because of the administrative and regulatory hurdles they had to overcome.
The files also show how an ex-EU digital commissioner was talking to the company about joining before she left. EU ethics rules state that lobbying for a firm could be a violation.
The leaked files reveal a cache of incredibly frank and direct conversations between Kalanick and other top officials that reveal a number of unethical practices and disdain for officials who didn't commit to helping the company. It is possible that the ones that exploit violence against drivers are the most upsetting.
In an exchange, executives from the ride-sharing company warned against sending drivers to a protest in France which could lead to violence.
Kalanick said he thinks it is worth it. Success is guaranteed by violence.
The accusation that Kalanick directed, engaged in, or was involved in any of these activities is completely false.
A former senior executive told the Guardian that the decision to send drivers into potentially dangerous protests was in line with the company's strategy of "weaponizing" drivers and exploiting the violence to keep the controversy burning.
In Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands, a similar strategy was used according to the leaked emails. The files show that when masked men attacked the drivers with a hammer and knuckle-dusters in Amsterdam in March 2015, they were trying to win concessions from the Dutch government.
The police reports were shared with the newspaper.
One manager wrote that they would not be on the front page tomorrow. We keep the violence narrative going for a while.
Hazelbaker acknowledged that the company had mistreated drivers, but that didn't mean they wanted violence against them.
She said that the former CEO said a lot that we wouldn't tolerate today. No one at the company has ever been happy about violence against drivers.
Despite its public-facing mask of innocence, the company appears to have known that it was operating illegally in many cities.
In countries like the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and Russia, staff refer to the company as "other than legal status", according to internal emails.
A senior executive wrote in an email that they are not legal in a lot of countries. The executive wrote that they have become pirates because of the strategies the company used to avoid enforcement.
Nairi Hourdaijan, the head of global communications at the ride-sharing company, said in a message to a colleague that sometimes they have problems because they are not legal.
The world's regulatory agencies, police and transport officials worked to stop the ride-sharing service from operating. Some officials downloaded the app in order to pull sting operations on unlicensed taxis and fine drivers. Dozens of offices were raided.
The "kill switch" came in that location. If law enforcement came to access the company's computers, they would have to use a "kill switch" that would restrict their access to sensitive company data.
An email from Kalanick's account shows that he asked staffers to hit the kill switch in Amsterdam. At least 12 times, this technique was used during raids in Belgium, France, India, Hungary, the Netherlands and Romania, as revealed by them.
Kalanick's spokesman said in a statement that the protocols are common business practices that protect intellectual property and customer privacy. Kalanick has never been charged for obstruction of justice or related offenses.
In the past, Kalanick has been accused of paying hackers $100,000 to cover up the theft of personal information from about 57 million users and drivers of the ride-sharing company.
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