The Uber Files: Massive leak reveals Biden and Macron aided Silicon Valley giant

Courting politicians and ruthless practices
Worldwide lobby
Manny and Trav
Mon ami, bon ami
Uber's EU ally
Secret lobbying
At Davos
Presidential endorsement
Making friends all over
'Strong advocate'
The kill switch
Pushing the button
Not afraid on using it
Protests and counter-protests
'Violence guarantees success'
5 years of documents
Behind closed doors
CEOs being bros
Under new management
Reckonings
A better life in the gig economy
Courting politicians and ruthless practices

The Uber Files are thousands of secret documents made public in July 2022 by British newspaper The Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It reveals how the company courted top international politicians and used ruthless tactics to dominate the taxi service market.

Worldwide lobby

The leak shows how the company lobbied important world leaders, such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden, with a few of them playing along with the company’s interests.

Manny and Trav

Among the top politicians, Uber courted Emmanuel Macron. The French President was on a first-name basis with Uber founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick.

Mon ami, bon ami

Macron, then French Minister of Economy, agreed to push for legislation that would favor Uber, according to the leaked documents presented by the ICIJ.

Uber's EU ally

Another major European political player that was courted by the taxi service company was former Dutch European Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Secret lobbying

Kroes, who served in the higher echelons of the EU between 2004 and 2014, was in charge of digital affairs for four years. The BBC highlights that she secretly lobbied for Uber, in a potential breach of EU ethics rules.

At Davos

Kalanick also met with then-Vice President Joe Biden at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Presidential endorsement

After their meeting, Biden appeared to mend his speech to mention a CEO whose company provides “freedom to work as many hours as they wish, manage their own lives as they wish”.

Making friends all over

The Guardian mentions that Uber executives also met with Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured), and British chancellor George Osborne.

'Strong advocate'

Osborne, who served under Prime Minister David Cameron from 2010 to 2016, was singled out in company notes as a “strong advocate” of Uber.

The kill switch

The Uber Files also reveal the existence of a “kill switch”, which would have rendered company data impossible to access for law enforcement agents.

Pushing the button

Former CEO Travis Kalanick used the kill switch at least once, with the Amsterdam branch of the company, as revealed by an e-mail.

Image: Thought Catalogue / Unsplash

Not afraid on using it

The kill switch was reportedly used in Canada, Belgium, India, Romania, Hungary, and at least three times in France.

Protests and counter-protests

When taxi drivers protested Uber’s unfair practices across Europe, Kalanick also encouraged counter-protests made up by Uber drivers, regardless of the risk that these might turn violent.

'Violence guarantees success'

‘Violence guarantees success’, Kalanick said in one of the e-mails. Since then, a spokesperson from the former CEO has made clear he never said Uber should capitalize on violence at the expense of driver safety.

5 years of documents

The leak, according to The Guardian, consists of over 124,000 documents that span 5 years of the time the company was headed by Travis Kalanick.

Behind closed doors

These include more than 83,000 e-mails and WhatsApp messages from 2013 to 2017.

CEOs being bros

Kalanick served as CEO until he was forced out of Uber in 2019, amid a series of scandals involving sexual harassment and an environment of misogynistic 'bro culture' inside the company.

Image: Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

Under new management

“There is much our former CEO said nearly a decade ago that we would certainly not condone today”, an Uber spokeswoman stated to The Guardian.

Reckonings

Regarding the Uber Files, the company pins the blame squarely on the practices of its former CEO and calls his ousting one of the “most infamous reckonings in the history of corporate America.”

A better life in the gig economy

Hopefully, the Uber Files will bring a change for the better for those who depend on the gig economy.

Image: Dan Gold / Unsplash

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