Former Uber executive comes out as leaker: ‘I am partly responsible’
Mark MacGann, Uber’s former head of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has come forward as the whistleblower who leaked the “Uber Files,” more than 124,000 internal documents revealing evidence of the ride-hailing giant’s misconduct.
MacGann, who leaked the files to The Guardian, said in an interview with the outlet on Monday that he did so because “I am partly responsible” for what he believes to be unethical and illegal activity from the company.
“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 said.
Uber attempted to carve out space for itself by battling taxi drivers and regulators in more than 40 countries, sometimes persuading government officials to join the fight, MacGann said.
“The company approach in these places was essentially to break the law, show how amazing Uber’s service was, and then change the law. My job was to go above the heads of city officials, build relations with the top level of government, and negotiate. It was also to deal with the fallout.”
MacGann said he bought into Uber’s “dream” but eventually realized “we had actually sold people a lie.”
Uber spokesman Noah Edwardsen said in a statement that MacGann “only had praise for Uber” when he departed the company in 2016. “We understand that Mark has personal regrets about his years of steadfast loyalty to our previous leadership, but he is in no position to speak credibly about Uber today.”
Edwardsen claimed MacGann was recently paid 550,000 euros in a settlement with the company. “It is noteworthy that Mark felt compelled to “blow the whistle” only after his check cleared.”
The “Uber Files,” which The Guardian shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, show that the company also exploited violence against its drivers to garner sympathy and enhance its persuasion efforts.
After taxi driver protests against Uber in the Netherlands led to attacks against four drivers who used the ride-hailing company, executives discussed ways to “keep the violence narrative going for a few days” and pump up publicity.
“Excellent work. This is exactly what we wanted and the timing is perfect,” wrote MacGann after the incidents in communications from the leaked files.
Now, MacGann said, “I regret being part of a group of people which massaged the facts to earn the trust of drivers, of consumers and of political elites.”
Updated at 3:06 p.m.