Uber Is Leakier Than The Trump Administration

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Uber is suffering from so many internal leaks, they could rival the scope of those under the Trump administration.

The ride-sharing company has experienced an excess of embarrassments and ordeals in recent months, some of which may have never been publicized if it wasn’t for former and current employees relaying information to media outlets. Two publications in particular seem to receive the most insider tips: The New York Times and Recode.

Mike Isaac of The NYT, for example, has gotten multiple spicy scoops from unidentified sources, leading to in-depth reporting on once-secret information. In a necessarily lengthy piece titled “How Uber Deceives the Authorities Worldwide,” Isaac wrote about a covert proprietary tool called Greyball, which allowed the company to identify and sidesteps officials who sought to catch it in the act of providing its services.

Uber used the unique technology with apparent success in cities like Boston, Las Vegas, Portland, and Paris, as well as countries like Australia, Italy, China and South Korea — places that have at one point imposed rules that restrict, or altogether, ban the ride-sharing company.

Isaac communicated with several people on the matter, including law enforcement officials, regulators, and the Portland mayor. But most importantly, he describes how he received the “confidential” information from four current and former employees who spoke on anonymity out “of fear of retaliation by Uber.”


The ride-sharing company turned tech conglomerate felt compelled to admit to Isaac of the program and provided their own justification.

That probably wasn’t even the biggest bombshell from Isaac. The tech writer received accounts from more than 30 current and former Uber employees. Collectively, they revealed to the journalist how employees at Uber have engaged in rampant lewd behavior, like bosom-grabbing, consumption of illicit drugs at booze-filled ragers, and taking a joy ride in a temporarily hijacked shuttle bus.

While Isaac has gotten lots of other exclusive information from Uber workers and inside sources, he, of course, isn’t the only one.

The tech publication Recode published a report Wednesday describing how a now-fired Uber executive carried around a rape victim’s medical records for roughly a year before eventually showing it to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Senior Vice President Emil Michael for further inspection. The report details how “sources said” the three executives surmised that its main competitor in the country where the rape happened may have been involved in the crime to sabotage the company. Kara Swisher, who co-founded Recode, and Johana Bhuiyan, a senior editor there, said they spoke to Uber staffers who told them they were very disturbed by the leadership’s purported actions.

The media outlet even got damning information about the company’s then-senior vice president before Uber ever knew.

A Recode report in February outlined how the high-level executive faced sexual harassment allegations at Google, his prior place of employment. Although it wasn’t fully confirmed, Recode notified the ride-sharing company in February, which ultimately led to Kalanick asking him to resign. (RELATED: Uber Hires Two Female Executives Amid Sexism and Sexual Harassment Allegations)

There are several other incriminating reports from Recode that cite anonymous sources, including a story published Thursday showing that Kalanick “advised employees on sex rules for a company celebration in 2013.”

Such mutinous behavior may be fueled by a phone app Uber employees reportedly use. Alex Shin, the founder of the anonymous mobile app called “Blind,” said in February that roughly 2,200 Uber coworkers are actively engaged on his proprietary platform.

While leaks in the White House are objectively more consequential, the divulgence of information at Uber has been seemingly more consistent and frequent than other private companies in recent history.

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