Uber’s bad 2017 just got even worse.
A former Uber employee alleged in court on Tuesday that the company had operated a special team that was tasked with findingâor maybe stealingâtrade secrets from other companies.Â
The team, called “Marketplace Analytics,” helped Uber find people and resources that could help it gain a competitive advantage over other companies, according to Rick Jacobs, a former Uber employee who revealed the existence of the team during testimony in the ongoing lawsuit between Google’s parent company Alphabet and Uber over self-driving car technology.Â
San Francisco District Judge William Alsup postponed the trial in order to examine new evidence: a letter which he said was withheld by Uber’s lawyers. That letter was written by the lawyer of Jacobs, and contains even more explosive allegations, according to reporters who were on the scene.
The allegations add to an already large amount of evidence about Uber’s shady and often illegal practices as it worked to establish a dominant position in the emerging ride-hailing market. Uber has similarly been accused of using secret software to trick regulators, different software to spy on Lyft drivers, and even have employees book fake rides to ruin the efficiency of competitive services.
All this is on top of Uber’s operator license being pulled from London, share devaluation by SoftBank, and a massive data hack and cover up that could lead to even more lawsuits. Â
Uber’s “Marketplace Analytics” team was successful in getting information like important code used by other companies and driver information, Jacobs reportedly said.
Ex-Uber employee Jacobs:
Uber team “successes” included acquiring leaked codebases of competitors on GitHub, getting info on drivers overseas, also general metrics around competitors overseas.
“I did not believe it was patently legal. I had questions about the ethics of it.”
â Biz Carson (@bizcarson) November 28, 2017
In addition to the efforts to find and acquire other companies’ information, Uber also allegedly pushed employees to use secure forms of communication in case the company’s actions were ever revealed, including computer servers separate from the company’s main systems, according to Forbes reporter Biz Carson.
There was some confusion, however, as Jacobs disagreed with certain parts of his lawyer’s letterâin particular that Uber’s program ever broke the law. The letter has not yet been made public. Jacobs is not currently with the company, but it is still paying him.Â
Q: Uber had a group dedicated to stealing trade secrets and confidential information from competitors, correct?[extremely long pause]
A: I believe thatâs a hyperbolic way to state somethingâ¦
â kate conger (@kateconger) November 28, 2017
The revelations also sound like a massive setback for Uber in its case with Waymo.
hello from 30,000 feet! here’s a sentence from a judge you never want to hear in court:
âI can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case,â Judge Alsup said. âIf even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial.â
â à² _à² (@MikeIsaac) November 28, 2017
We reached out to Uber for comment, and haven’t heard back. We’ll update this story with their response, and any other updates from the hearing.Â
This story is developing…