Uber's former lobbyist in Europe, Middle East, Africa says he is 'Uber Files' leaker

Mark MacGann says the company "sold people a lie" about economic opportunity for drivers.
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Following the explosive "Uber Files" leak of thousands of pages of documents and messages from top company executives, Uber's former chief of policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa has come forward as the source.

Mark MacGann, who worked for the popular ride-share company from 2014-2016, told The Guardian newspaper in an interview that he was "partly responsible" for the leaked documents and 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," he also said.

The documents, shared with a consortium of news outlets, show how during Uber's most aggressive period of growth, the company reportedly used covert technology to thwart police investigations, sought favors from top-ranking government officials and considered possible violent clashes between its drivers and taxicab operators a marketing benefit.

MacGann served as the public face of the company and acted as its top lobbyist during that roughly two-year period.

He touted economic opportunity for drivers, but now says, "When that turned out not to be the case – we had actually sold people a lie – how can you have a clear conscience if you don’t stand up and own your contribution to how people are being treated today?"

The Guardian noted that MacGann recently settled a dispute with the company relating to his pay after leaving in 2016. MacGann also says he was attacked in Brussels by angry cab drivers and began to question his company's confrontational tactics. He says he realized the company would put drivers "in harm's way for their own financial interests."

After departing the company, MacGann received treatment for PTSD that, according to a medical report, was related to the stress he endured during his time at the company. He eventually shared a trove of emails and messages with The Guardian and shared information with a French lawyer who is suing the company on behalf of drivers.

The report that was based on MacGann's shared files shows how the massively successful startup ran into myriad legal and political problems due to behavior and business practices that, as one executive put it, were "just f***ing illegal." 

"Don't ask for permission. Just launch, hustle, enlist drivers, go out, do the marketing, and quickly people will wake up and see what a great thing Uber is," was the business motto pushed by the company, and specifically stated by former head of global communications Nairi Hourdajian. 

In response to the leaked "Uber Files" controversy, the company released a statement earlier this week that reads, "We have not and will not make excuses for past behavior that is clearly not in line with our present values. Instead, we ask the public to judge us by what we’ve done over the last five years and what we will do in the years to come."

Following the reveal of MacGann as the leaker, the company said, "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.

"Mark had only praise for Uber when he left the company six years ago. In his 2016 departure email, he called Uber the 'enterprise of this generation' and described himself as 'a strong believer in Uber’s mission.'

"Since then, however, Mark has been in litigation against the company in an attempt, among other things, to get paid a bonus he claimed to be owed for his work at Uber. That lawsuit recently ended with him being paid 585,000 euros. It is noteworthy that Mark felt compelled to 'blow the whistle' only after his check cleared."