President Joe Biden was among a group of global leaders that Uber had access to, when the ride-hailing company was aggressively expanding its global presence, according to leaked company files.
The Uber files, containing more than 124,000 emails, memos, text messages, company presentations and other documents dating from 2013 to 2017, were leaked to British newspaper The Guardian. The outlet then shared the files with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its media partners.
The person who leaked the files is Mark MacGann, Uber’s former chief European lobbyist.
According to an ICIJ report on Uber’s records released on July 10, the records showed how Uber executives, including co-founder Travis Kalanick, lobbied and courted politicians around the world for favors. , during its spectacular expansion.
In total, Uber executives held more than 100 meetings with public officials from 17 countries and the European Union, according to the report. Of these meetings, 34 took place with European Union officials and 9 with European Commissioners. Twelve of the meetings with representatives of the European Commission had not been made public.
Biden met Kalanick in Davos, Switzerland, in 2016, just before the then US vice president was to deliver a speech at the World Economic Forum, the report said.
Kalanick apparently wasn’t happy that Biden showed up late to their meeting in Biden’s suite at the InterContinental hotel.
“I have asked my staff to let him know that every minute he is late is one minute less he will be with me,” Kalanick wrote in a text message to a colleague.
During their meeting, Biden was impressed with what Kalanick said, how Uber was transforming cities and how people work for the better, that the then vice president “tweaked his opening speech.” , according to the report.
Biden did not name Uber or Kalanick in his speech.
“Ridesharing companies employ tens of thousands of new people. I met today with the CEO of one of these companies,” Biden said in his speech. “He said he was going to create two million new jobs this year, allowing them to work as many hours as they want, to run their own lives the way they want.”
“Uber took particular care to keep Kalanick’s meeting with Biden confidential,” the report said, before adding that the meeting was arranged “by a chain of former Obama staffers.”
In response to questions from the ICIJ in June, a White House spokeswoman said Biden was “committed to addressing employee misclassification that strips workers of essential protections and benefits, including minimum wage. , overtime, and family and medical leave,” according to the report.
Kalanick was CEO of Uber from 2010 to 2017 before stepping down amid scrutiny of Uber’s treatment of female engineers and questionable business practices. However, he retained his seat on the company’s board until the end of 2019.
The report also named French President Emmanuel Macron, specifically on how he was an ally of Uber when he was the country’s finance minister.
Uber’s service was partially suspended in the French city of Marseille on October 20, 2015, according to the report, following protests from local taxi drivers.
“Could you ask your firm to help us understand what is going on? MacGann wrote to Macron.
Less than a day later, Macron replied: “I will find out personally. Send me all the facts and we’ll decide by tonight. Let’s stay calm at this point, I trust you.
Hours later, Marseille authorities announced they would review the suspension order, according to the report.
The report said the exchange between MacGann and Macron was “one of more than a dozen undisclosed communications” between representatives of Uber and Macron.
Marcon’s office responded to the Uber filings, saying the economy minister had frequent contact with companies disrupting the service industry at the time, and it was appropriate to ease red tape, said reported the French newspaper Le Monde.
Kalanick also met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in 2016.
“Right now you are considered aggressive,” Rutte told Kalanick according to meeting notes cited in the report.
Rutte suggested that Kalanick “change the way people see the business” by emphasizing the positives of the business.
“It will make you look cuddly,” Rutte said.