Pity the poor Uber lawyer who has to tell an already moody Travis Kalanick that homeboy's got a new headache brewing...and this shit is federal.
An inquiry by the United States Department of Justice into Uber’s use of a program to deceive some regulators has expanded.
The ride-hailing company has been under scrutiny from the Justice Department over a tool called Greyball, which The New York Times reported on in March. The Greyball tool allowed Uber to deploy what was essentially a fake version of its app to evade law enforcement agencies that were trying to clamp down on its service in cities including Portland, Ore., Boston and Las Vegas.
Oh man, it's almost like Uber isn't allowed to purposefully mislead local governments in its ongoing quest to do whatever the fuck it wants whenever it wants. We know hedge funds with more self-control and less ego.
Greyball is the most concrete piece of evidence yet that Uber genuinely believes itself to exist somewhere beyond the silly laws of mere mortal companies. The Ayn Rand-themed car service that lives on your phone is such a complete and total Silicon Valley baby that it not only keeps trying to get away with shit that no one else would, it keeps acting shocked and persecuted when it gets caught. Kalanick waged passive-aggressive cold wars with cities, states and nations, creating chaos in most of them and winning in even more, but many of his enemies have gone full stalking horse, waiting for their moment to exact revenge. Dumb hubristic shit like "Greyball" is akin to handing them an invite that reads in embossed cursive "You may fuck me back now."
And let's step back to contemplate how much of an asshole you have to be as a corporate entity to draw the attention of Old Greyballs himself, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III [his real name, we shit you not]. As part of the Trump administration, one assumed that Sessions has almost an almost tacit edict to leave private businesses alone and has even been allowed to take up the time he would usually spend on white-collar crime living out a vengeance fantasy on hippy-ism by waging war on marijuana and setting civil rights in America back three or four decades. For Uber to make him investigate, they have truly pissed off the wrong people, namely; Everyone.
The Justice Department earlier opened an inquiry into Uber’s use of Greyball in Portland, city officials there disclosed in a transportation audit last week. Portland was also moving ahead with subpoenaing Uber on Greyball, an official there said on Friday, affirming that the federal action was a criminal investigation.
Now the inquiry has widened to include Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Parking Authority, a state-governed transportation agency, said on Friday that it was contacted by the Justice Department and asked to hand over information regarding Uber and its use of special software to enter and operate in certain markets.
So we can add a bucketload of federal prosecutors to a growing list of Uber enemies that now includes the mayors of most major cities, Henry Kravis, organized labor, Kara Swisher, France, women, and "woke" Millennials.
Uber is a multi-multi-billion dollar business predicated on targeting an industry that had become entrenched in most large cities around the globe, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But like a broken record that refuses to be fixed, we will say again that Uber's biggest problem is that it has engaged in trench warfare and excels at it, but when anyone asks about how aggressive it is, Uber stands covered in the blood of the trenches and the blood of its enemies, grinning from ear-to-ear (while wearing a necklace made of ears) and telling anyone who will listen that it doesn't have a taste for violence.