Lobbyist Mark MacGann told The Guardian that he was the whistleblower on Uber's practices and the one who provided thousands of incriminating documents about the American company to the British daily.
M. MacGann, who between 2014 and 2016 led the lobbying efforts of the chauffeur-driven car platform in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, decided to speak because he believes that Uber has broken the law in dozens of countries and deceived people about the profits of the company's model.
Aged 52, he admits having his share of responsibility in the facts he denounces today: “I was the one who spoke to governments, pushed (the Uber model) in the media, the one who told the people that they should change the rules because drivers were going to benefit and people were going to have a lot of economic opportunities,” he said in an interview with The Guardian.
When the evolution of society has shown that “we sold a lie, how can you have a clear conscience if you don't speak out against the way people are treated today? “, he adds.
Uber, which has become the symbol of the “gig economy” – or the economy of odd jobs resulting from internet platforms of consumer services – finds itself immersed in its tumultuous past since on Sunday following an extensive investigation by journalists accusing the company of “breaking the law” and using brutal methods to win despite the reluctance of politicians and taxi companies.
The Guardian has shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) some 124,000 documents, dated from 2013 to 2017, including emails and messages from Uber executives at the time, as well as presentations, notes and invoices .
On Sunday, several news organizations (including the Washington Post, Le Monde and the BBC) published their first articles from these “Uber Files”. They highlight certain practices of Uber during these years of rapid expansion, but also of confrontations, from Paris to Johannesburg.
Le Monde was particularly interested in the links between American society and Emmanuel Macron at when he was Minister of the Economy (2014-2016).
Certain practices intended to help Uber consolidate its positions in France are pointed out, such as suggesting to the undertaking to present “ready-made” amendments to MPs.
The history of the Uber platform, created in 2010, has been dotted with scandals of harassment, hacking, industrial espionage and a standoff with the law.
Uber says it has changed since the eviction in 2017 from its former boss and co-founder Travis Kalanick, who had created a largely toxic corporate culture. The spokesman for the latter on Sunday refuted all the accusations of the newspapers, including that of obstruction of justice.
The Irish-born lobbyist says the ease with which Uber penetrated the highest echelons of power in countries like the UK, France or Russia was 'intoxicating', but also 'deeply unfair' and 'undemocratic' .
The company has questioned the “credibility” of Mr. MacGann.
“We understand that Mark has personal regrets over his years of loyalty to the former management team, but he is not in a position to speak with credibility about Uber today,” she reacted in an email sent to AFP.
A spokesperson points out that the lobbyist, after having described Uber as “a company of his generation”, found himself in conflict with the company in particular “to collect a bonus which he considered himself due”.
“This complaint recently ended and he received a payment of 585,000 euros”, adds Uber, noting that “Mark felt obliged to sound the alarm after cashing his check”.< /p>
Mr. MacGann acknowledges personal grievances with his former employer. In addition to the dispute over his emoluments, he accuses Uber under Mr. Kalanick of adopting confrontational strategies with the taxi industry that have exposed him personally, including in France and Spain.
In particular, he received death threats and Uber provided him with a bodyguard at the time, he told the Guardian. His experience at Uber took a toll on his mental health and he says it helped trigger post-traumatic stress disorder in him.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128