Edited excerpts from an interview with Mark MacGann, who worked for Uber between 2014 and 2016 and displayed himself as the whistleblower who offered The Guardian 124,000 company information that represents The Uber Files.
Mark MacGann, 52, a career lobbyist who worked for Uber between 2014 and 2016, has shown himself as the whistleblower who offered The Guardian 124,000 company records that represent The Uber Files.
The cache of internal emails, textual content messages, and documents, which The Guardian shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its media companions across the world, show how the ride-hailing start-up has become an international behemoth by harnessing technology, working around laws, and using competitive lobbying with governments during the time period of its dramatic expansion.
I was employed to lead a crew of people to develop and implement our strategy to lobby governments throughout Europe, Africa, throughout the Middle East, so we could enter the marketplace and grow, despite in most instances the rules not permitting Uber to operate.
Were you conscious that Uber was flouting the regulation in cities and countries wherein there had been licensed taxi regulations?
In most countries beneath neath my jurisdiction, Uber was not allowed, was not authorised, and was not legal.
So the approach was to knowingly ruin the regulation after which to change the regulation?
The mantra that people repeated from one workplace to another was the mantra from the top, so don’t ask for permission, simply launch, hustle, enlist drivers, go out, do the advertising and marketing and quickly people will wake up and notice what a remarkable thing Uber is.
How hard was it so one can get meetings with presidents, top ministers, chancellors, and city mayors, for Uber?
It was unparalleled in my profession to have such easy access to senior participants of government… Uber was on the time in the tech world, possibly in the broader business world, the hottest ticket in town and to a sure extent, both on the investor aspect and additionally at the political aspect, people had been nearly falling over themselves if you want to meet with Uber and to hear what we needed to offer.
The conferences you and other Uber executives had with UK cabinet ministers had been never declared. Why?
…Everyone has friends, and those had been accepting requests from their friends, and those had been reciprocating, and it was in no one’s interest for that to return back to the fore, for that to be made public… These are the comfortable networks which have existed for so long but still manage to change form however still exist. Access to power isn’t always something that is democratised. Uber’s former leader executive, Travis Kalanick, answered to strikes by taxi drivers (in opposition to Uber) by ordering a counter-protest. When company executives warned it is able to bring about attacks on Uber drivers, Kalanick replied “I think it’s really well worth it. Violence guarantees success.” What did he mean?
I think he intended that the simplest way to get governments to change the regulations, legalise Uber and permit Uber to grow, as Uber wished, might be to hold the fight, to hold the talk burning. And if that intended Uber drivers going on strike, Uber drivers doing a demo withinside the streets, Uber drivers blocking off Barcelona, blocking off Berlin, blocking off Paris, then that was the way to head.
Isn’t that dangerous?
Of course, it’s dangerous. It’s additionally, in a way, very selfish. Because he was not the man on the street who’s being threatened, who’s being attacked…and in a few instances shot… I started getting shouted at airports, train stations… Taxi drivers had been following me around, recording wherein I lived, they had been banging at the door, posting images online of me with friends, with kids of my friends. I started to get loss of life threats on Twitter. So Uber said, ‘Okay, we want to guard you.’ So they compelled me to have bodyguards whenever I left my home, which was all of the time considering that I was touring all of the time. …The anger and hatred that I witnessed firsthand, I don’t hold it against those individuals who had been doing it. Here’s a company that was inclined to interrupt all of the regulations, and use its money and its strength…to spoil their livelihoods, so that they needed anyone to be angry at… I have become that person.
How would you reply to the idea that you’re leaking this material out of vengeance in opposition to the company?
I think people want to study the information that I’m helping to expose. Certainly, I actually have had my grievances with Uber withinside the past. What I’m doing isn’t easy, however, I agree with it’s the right thing.
Do you feel in part accountable or culpable for the lives you notice drivers now living?
Yes, I do. And I am in part accountable, and that’s my motivation for doing what I’m doing in being a whistleblower… It’s about making amends. It’s about doing the right thing. Look, I very own what I did, however, if it seems that what I was attempting to influence governments, ministers, top ministers, presidents and drivers, turned out to be horribly, horribly incorrect and untrue, then it’s incumbent upon me to go back and say, ‘I think we made a mistake.’