Uber Used Undercover Agents To Steal Competitor’s Secret?


A new letter published by a US court has alleged that Uber may have engaged an undercover agents to steal trade secrets from its competitor, according to a report by BBC.

You will recall that we had earlier reported in February 2017 of a lawsuit from Waymo against Uber, accusing the company of stealing its trade secrets. Waymo is seeking $2.6 billion for the stolen property. According to the BBC report, the letter, sent by lawyers representing a former Uber employee, sparked an internal investigation when it was sent to Uber in May, but has not been made public until now.

On how Uber may have secretly stolen the trade secrets, the alleged letter made by Uber’s one time employee Richard Jacobs reads that “These tactics were employed clandestinely through a distributed architecture of anonymous servers, telecommunications architecture, and non-attributable hardware and software,”. The report also says that other allegations include, Uber employees posing as protesters in order to gain access to private online chat groups. Jacobs also alleged that in one particularly bizarre example, an Uber “surveillance team” was deployed to a hotel in order to record and observe conversations between executives at a rival company – the name of which has been redacted from the version of the letter made public. It also said that the Uber agents specifically wanted to monitor the competitors’ reaction to the news that Uber had secured a large amount of funding from a Saudi investor.

Did Uber actually used undercover agents to steal trade secrets? Will this Jacob’s letter be a decisive tool against Uber in the suit earlier scheduled to start this month, but has now been fixed to begin in February? These questions will be answered in the coming months.

Uber an American multinational online taxi dispatch company headquartered in San Francisco, California, was founded by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009. Its Uber mobile app allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. In 2014 Uber was ranked by Klout as the 48th-most powerful company in America. By late-2015, Uber was estimated to be worth $62.5 billion.

Waymo, previously known as the Google self-driving car project, is an autonomous car developer and an independent company under Alphabet Inc. The company began in 2009 as a project under Google. In 2015 the project completed its first driverless ride on public roads, giving a ride to a sole blind man in Austin, Texas.

In December 2016, Google transitioned the project into a new company called Waymo, housed under Google’s parent company Alphabet. Alphabet describes Waymo as “a self-driving tech company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around.” The new company, which will be headed by long-time automotive executive John Krafcik, plans to make self-driving cars available to the public in 2020.

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