Monday, July 18, 2022

Uber Hoped to Influence 1,850 Stakeholders, Including Think Tank Experts

Here is more from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ):

Now, a new leak of records reveal the inside story of how [Uber] executives muscled into new markets, then managed the fallout, spending gobs of cash on a global influence machine deployed to win favors from politicians, regulators and other leaders, who were often eager to lend a hand.

The records, the Uber Files, were obtained by The Guardian newspaper and shared with ICIJ and 42 other media partners. The cache includes emails, text messages, company presentations and other documents from 2013 to 2017, when Uber was barging into cities in defiance of local laws and regulations, dodging taxes and seeking to grind into submission the taxi industry, most prominently, but also labor activists.

To spread its message, Uber and an advisory firm compiled lists of more than 1,850 “stakeholders” — sitting and former public officials, think tanks and citizens groups — it hoped to influence in 29 countries and the European Union, the documents show.


While the majority of those targeted were politicians and public officials, reporting reveals that 91 officers, executives, or board members at think tanks, consumer groups, interest groups, and trade associations were targeted by Uber. 

Here is more from The Guardian which provides one specific example:

In Germany, where authorities were clamping down on Uber’s breaches of regulations in 2014, Prof Justus Haucap, a leading economist at Düsseldorf University’s Institute for Competition Economics (DICE), agreed to produce a study on “consumer benefits from a liberalisation of the German taxi market”.

The study was conducted in collaboration with a consultancy arm of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), described by Uber executives in internal emails as “the thinktank that has greatest sway with the current [German] government”, for what the leak suggested was a fee of €48,000 plus VAT.


Also, Axios just noted that Uber paid $100,000 for a paper written by an economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Uber is certainly no stranger to think tanks.  Several years ago, for example, Uber leadership engaged with the Urban Institute and other groups to develop a "research-informed categorization system to classify users’ reports of incidents of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault to better inform them of the nature and scope of these experiences on their platform and how to address them."

Uber donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to Urban Institute in each of the following years: 2016, 2017, and 2019.  In 2020 it donated between $100,000 and $250,000.