Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

Market Insanity

The Unbelievable Number of Scandals at Uber

Uber Technologies Inc. may have become the most scandal plagued company in history. There are so many scandals at Uber that a checklist is needed to keep score.

Here is a list of the current Uber scandals:

  • Waymo Intellectual Property Theft Lawsuit, February 2017 to present – Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) alleged that Uber’s head of self-driving car development Anthony Levandowski “downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems” in a lawsuit. The files involved the LiDAR sensor technology which is at the heart of the Google Car program. Levandowski founded the self-driving truck company Otto which is at the heart of Uber’s expansion plans.

  • Illegal Lobbying in Chicago, 2015 and 2016 – Uber’s senior vice president for policy and strategy David Plouffe was fined $90,000 for illegally lobbying Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, The Chicago Tribune reported. Plouffe was trying to get more access to O’Hare and Midway airports for Uber drivers.
  • Sexual Harassment, February 2017 – Engineer Susan Fowler claimed her supervisor harassed her and pressured her for sex while she was working at Uber in a blog post, The New York Times reported.

  • Greyball, February 2017 – The New York Times charged that Uber deliberately used a tool called Greyball to fool authorities and circumvent laws. Grebyall was allegedly part of Uber’s VTOS (Violation of Terms of Service) program which was designed to catch those abusing Uber. Anonymous sources told The Times that Greyball created false data to fool authorities that included fake drivers. Among other things VTOS involved efforts to identify and deceive enforcement officers, The Times
  • Sexual Assault, 2013 to Present – The Who’s Driving You? blog has amassed a list of dozens of sexual assault allegations against Uber drivers all over the world. The alleged assaults range from sexting to groping to exposure to attempted rape, to actual rape to assault on a child.
  • Deaths, 2014 to Present- Who’s Driving You? has posted a list of 15 fatal accidents involving Uber. In several of them Uber drivers were arrested, charged and convicted of or plead guilty to causing deadly accidents.
  • Toxic Culture, 2017 – Several news articles accusing Uber CEO Travis Kalanick of creating a “toxic culture” have been published. The Financial Times accused Kalanick of being a swaggering bully who is trying to create a personality cult. Investors Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein accused Uber of having a toxic culture that encouraged sexism. The New York Times described a corporate culture that included such behavior as drug use.

  • Discrimination against the Disabled, 2015 – A federal lawsuit filed by the National Federation of the Blind of California charged that Uber drivers had refused to haul blind passengers.
  • Spying on Journalists, 2014 – BuzzFeed alleged that Uber’s Vice President for Business Emil Michael laid out a plan to hire private investigators to dig up dirt on journalists critical of the company. It also charged that Michael used Uber data to track the movements of BuzzFeed reporter Johana Bhuiyan.
  • Uber’s Valuation, 2016 – Analysts claimed Uber was worth $70 billion, but an anonymous source told Bloomberg Technology that the company would lose $5.5 billion in 2016. The same source claimed Uber lost $300 million during third quarter 2016. Bloomberg’s article claimed that Uber’s losses exceeded its revenues by $1.74 billion.

  • Low Pay for Uber Drivers, 2014 to present – Back in 2014 some Uber drivers in New York told Business Insider that were making less than minimum wage – as little as $5 an hour. In February 2017 Quartz estimated that Uber drivers that participated with a joint venture with Zipcar in Boston would make less than minimum wage. The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $11 an hour, the Uber Zipcar drivers would make around $8 an hour.

Disturbingly this is just a brief rundown of some Uber scandals. There are many more out there including some we do not know about yet.