For such a remarkably successful company, when is Uber going to stop shooting itself in the foot and get on with business?
In just one more example of the ongoing flood of bad news Uber has encountered this year, the rideshare giant has been under federal investigation for allegedly deploying an espionage team into the workplaces of top competitors to plunder trade secrets. The competitor in question is Waymo, a self-driving car company that departed from Google to become its own business entity in 2016.
However, due to a newly revealed letter, the judge has now decided to place the trial on hold. The incriminating letter, written by the lawyer of ex-Uber employee Richard Jacobs, accompanies Jacobs' testimony that Uber had in fact kept and maintained a secret unit meant for stealing trade secrets from its rivals overseas.
And, when further pressed under questioning, Jacobs even admitted that his lawyer's letter did in fact state that Uber had stolen trade secrets from Waymo, but that his lawyer's allegations were mistaken. Jacobs ultimately claims that he was not aware of any espionage attempts in the U.S..
Due to the appearance of Jacobs' letter, U.S. District Judge William Alsup to pause the trial in order to allow Waymo time to gather more evidence. Currently, Waymo is pushing the allegation that Uber is building its own fleet of self-driving cars from stolen trade secrets gathered by former Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski -- whose startup was bought by Uber for $680 million after his departure from Waymo last year.
This raises further concerns about Uber's questionable ethics and overall conduct over the last year. In 2017 alone, Uber has been confronted by harrowing accounts of sexual harassment inside the company, as well as a year-long cover-up of a hacking incident that revealed the information of 57 million passengers.
If Uber continues along this path, it appears very likely that the rideshare company may start losing more and more consumers to Lyft (and other upstarts, such as the newly hatched Bounce) before 2017 is even over. Now that more and more of Uber's wrongdoings are slowly coming to light -- each more startling than the last -- the future of the company's standing with its users could very well be in jeopardy.