Another day, another round of bad news for Uber.
Uber came into 2017 riding a lot of momentum as one of the shining stars in Silicon Valley’s vision of the modern economy. Since then, it’s been one scandal after another. Issues of toxic internal culture. Accusations of bribery. Various lawsuits. The ousting of CEO Travis Kalanick. And they’re not done yet.
The latest problem for the embattled ridesharing company is news that the FBI is investigating whether or not Uber’s software illegally interfered with its competitor, Lyft. Dubbed the ‘Hell’ program, this software allegedly spied on competitor’s drivers between 2014 and 2016 and provided top Uber executives with data they used to outmaneuver ridesharing companies such as Lyft.
Part of this was being able to figure out which Uber drivers were also driving for Lyft and then enticing them to drop their rival and only work for them. Uber allegedly created fake Lyft accounts in order to trick their system into believing that prospective customers were seeking rides, which not only revealed double-app drivers but also what prices Lyft was offering. That allowed Uber to undercut their prices and steal business away.
An Uber spokesman told TechCrunch they’re cooperating with the investigation and the “Hell” program is no longer operating.
You have to give Uber credit. When they do something, they do it all the way, even if it’s highly unethical and illegal. They’re also being investigated in California over a tool called “Greyball” that was designed to help them evade regulatory and law enforcement oversight. Guess that one didn’t work as well.