Uber In More Legal Trouble As Probes Increase

Reports indicate that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Uber in five criminal probes. One of the probes involves a violation of price-transparency by the ride-hailing firm. Officials at the Department of Justice are also looking into the role of the company in the case where Uber is alleged to have stolen schematics as well as other documents which outlined the autonomous car technology of Google’s driverless-vehicle unit, Waymo.

The price-transparency violation probe involves the revelations that the ride hailing firm created and deployed two software applications known as Firehouse and Cascade to offer discounts only to selected customers and not all, an action which is prohibited by Federal law.

There are also civil suits filed against Uber one of which has been brought against the ride hailing company by Google and is expected to start trial later in the year. Uber also recently lost its license to operate in London. The British capital consists of about 5% of the combined global user base of the ride hailing giant.

Corporate culture

According to reports it was ingrained in Uber’s corporate culture to view laws as something to be tested. When Travis Kalanick, the former chief executive officer of the company, was setting up Uber’s legal unit that was the focus he ingrained in the team. Kalanick also tended to hire those executives who could push the envelope with regards to the laws without breaking a sweat. This resulted in a culture of rule-breaking and this is part of the reason why the transportation company is facing so many lawsuits.

Kalanick was also a micromanager who, whenever there was dismal performance in a particular city, he would get in touch with local managers urging them to do anything possible to turn around the situation. This including attacking the competition or setting extremely high growth targets.

Undermining rivals

With regards to fighting competition one of the software applications that Uber developed to undermine rivals was known as Surfcam. The application was used to determine the number of drivers competitors had on their system at any particular time. This was the tactic Uber applied against its Southeast Asian competitor, Grab. In the United States used a similar application but which went by the name of Hell. This was used primarily to obtain information on the drivers of its rival, Lyft. Another controversial software that Uber created was Greyball which was used to dodge authorities suspected to be out to harm the company.

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