Mark MacGann, the organization’s former chief of policy in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), has come forward as the source, one day after an explosion of reports based from a large “Uber Files” leak involving thousands of documents and messages between key officials.
“I was the one talking to governments; I was the one pushing this with the media; I was the one telling people that they should change the rules because drivers were going to benefit and people were going to get so much economic opportunity,” MacGann told The Guardian in the video interview that is embedded above. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), The Washington Post, and the BBC all have reports that go along with the interview.
As the company’s senior position holder from 2014 to 2016, MacGann served as the organization’s public face in those regions throughout the global deployment of Uber’s ride-sharing service. How can you have a clear conscience if you don’t stand up and own your contribution to how people are being treated today, MacGann asks in reference to those benefits for the drivers and the alleged economic opportunity of the gig economy? “When that turned out not to be the case — we had actually sold people a lie,” he continues.
He is also the source of some of the leaked correspondence, including those with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, senior vice president David Plouffe, and promises from French President Emmanuel Macron to “personally” check into issues with Marseille authorities.
MacGann departed Uber in the latter part of 2016 on what appeared to be amicable terms, while The Guardian points out that he recently settled a pay-related dispute with the business. He claims that he was attacked in Brussels by irate cab drivers who blamed Uber’s aggressive style since he served as the face of the company’s European launch. For their own financial gain, MacGann stated, “I started to believe it was emblematic of Uber’s larger connection with drivers, putting them in danger.”
In January, MacGann traveled to Geneva to meet with The Guardian and shared 18.69GB of emails, texts, and company records after receiving extensive treatment for PTSD that a medical report claimed was related to the work-related stress he experienced at Uber. MacGann also shared information with a French attorney who was suing the company on behalf of drivers.
The documents and reports taken together demonstrate how Uber frequently encountered political and legal barriers because, as former global communications chief Nairi Hourdajian described it in a message from 2014, “Sometimes we have challenges because, well, we’re just fucking illegal.” According to MacGann, it used a brazen invasion strategy that involved rapid expansion, regardless of whether the service was authorized. “Stop requesting authorization. Simply start out, hustle, hire drivers, go out, and do the promotion, and people will rapidly realize what a fantastic product Uber is.
Jill Hazelbaker, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for Uber, replied with a statement yesterday that concluded, “We have not and will not make excuses for previous behavior that is obviously at odds with our current principles. Instead, we want the public to assess our performance based on both our past five years’ worth of work and our future plans.
Earlier today, Uber reacted once more, this time through spokesperson Noah Edwardsen. “We comprehend Mark’s personal regrets over his years of unwavering service to our former leadership, but he is currently unable to talk honestly about Uber.
When Mark left Uber six years ago, he had nothing but admiration for the firm. He referred to Uber as the “enterprise of this generation” and identified himself as “a passionate believer in Uber’s purpose” in his email of resignation from the company in 2016. Since then, though, Mark has been suing the business in an effort to get paid a bonus he believes is due for his work at Uber, among other things. He was just compensated 585,000 euros when the dispute came to a conclusion. Notably, Mark didn’t feel obligated to “blow the whistle” until his check had cleared.
The founder and former CEO of Kalanick, Travis Spurgeon, issued the following statement on his behalf: “Travis Kalanick never approved any acts or programs that would impede justice in any nation. In truth, Mr. Kalanick played a very little role in Uber’s Russian development ambitions and never approved or ordered any criminal activity. And Mr. Kalanick has never advocated for Uber to exploit violence at the expense of driver security.