Uber: Lobbyist Mark MacGann announces he is the whistleblower

Uber: Lobbyist Mark MacGann announces he is whistleblower

UPDATE DAY

Lobbyist Mark MacGann told The Guardian that he was the whistleblower on the practices of Uber and the one who provided thousands of compromising documents on American society to the British daily newspaper.

Mr. MacGann, who led the ride-hailing platform's lobbying efforts in Europe, Africa and the Middle East between 2014 and 2016, decided to speak out because he believes Uber broke the law in dozens of countries and deceived people about the profits of the business 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 people that they should change the rules, because the drivers were going to benefit from it and people were going to have a lot of economic opportunities,” he said in an interview with the Guardian.

< p>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 for consumer services – finds itself immersed in its tumultuous past since Sunday, following an extensive investigation journalists accusing the company of having “broken the law” and used brutal methods to impose itself despite the reluctance of politicians and taxi companies.

The Guardianshared 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, memos 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 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 the company present “turnkey” 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 2017 ousting of its former boss and co-founder Travis Kalanick, who had created a largely toxic corporate culture. The spokesman for the latter refuted, on Sunday, all the accusations of the newspapers, including that of obstruction of justice.

Antidemocratic

The Irish-born lobbyist says the ease with which Uber penetrated the highest echelons of power in countries such as 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 of 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” .

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.

He received death threats, among other things, and Uber provided him with a bodyguard at the time, he tells the Guardian. His experience at Uber took a toll on his mental health and he says she helped trigger post-traumatic stress disorder in him.