On November 2, Uber whistleblower Mark McGann spoke at tech conference the Web Summit and commented on Uber’s current practices and business model. At the summit, MacGann talked about Uber’s recent statements on its business model and the company’s executive team.
MacGann and The Uber Files
MacGann, a lobbyist who worked for Uber, identified himself as the whistleblower who provided The Guardian with over 124,000 files that became The Uber Files. “The data reveals how Uber flouted the law, duped police, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments across the world,” a Guardian explainer article reports. The documents, which include emails, iMessages, and WhatsApp messages, exposes “the ethically questionable practices through which the company barged its way into new markets, often where existing laws or regulations made its operations illegal, before lobbying aggressively for those same laws or regulations to be altered to accommodate it.”
MacGann said that he decided to speak up “because he believes Uber knowingly flouted laws in dozens of countries and misled people about the benefits to drivers of the company’s gig-economy model,” according to an exclusive interview he gave to the Guardian.
In the interview, MacGann acknowledged the role he played in furthering Uber’s goals worldwide and expressed regret: “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,” MacGann said. “I should have shown more common sense and pushed harder to stop the craziness. It is my duty to [now] speak up and help governments and parliamentarians right some fundamental wrongs. Morally, I had no choice in the matter.” Read more about MacGann and the Uber Files here.
“They have so, so far to go”
MacGann spoke at the Web Summit in Lisbon on November 2 and talked about Uber’s current business practices, according to a Reuters article. He said “that the ride-hailing company seemed to be taking steps toward improving its work culture, but that its business model was still ‘absolutely’ unsustainable.”
MacGann said that “Uber’s current CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, and his executive team ‘have done a lot of good things, but they have so, so far to go,’” according to the article.
When Reuters reached out to Uber for comment, a spokesperson referred the news outlet to a 2020 opinion piece written by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi that was published in The New York Times. The piece defends Uber’s practice of treating drivers as contractors and provides suggestions for gig economy companies.
On November 2, MacGann made a statement directed to his former employer. “My message to Uber is: ‘you’ve done well, (but) you can do it so much better (because) the current model is absolutely not sustainable,'” he said.
MacGann said that “recently reiterated that the “core of its business model is independent contractors, since everybody wants to be self-employed, everybody wants flexibility.” But he noted that around the world, there are Uber drivers who are suing the company to “have a basic minimum of social protection such as sick pay.”
“Uber is pumping tens of millions of dollars in Europe, United States, other parts of the world fighting legislation,” MacGann said.