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Violence guarantees success: how Uber exploited taxi protests

Leak suggests former CEO believed there was an upside to attacks on drivers as firm campaigned for law changes. Uber broke laws, duped police and built secret lobbying operation, leak reveals. According to the Uber files, some at the company appear to have seen an upside in the attacks against drivers. When attacks occurred, Uber moved swiftly to leverage the violence in a campaign to pressure governments to rewrite laws that stymied Uber’s chances of expansion. “We keep the violence narrative going for a few days, before we offer the solution.” — Uber manager.

It was a playbook repeated in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, but it was perhaps most evident in France. Before dawn in Europe on 29 January, the Uber chief executive, Travis Kalanick, was messaging on how best to respond to the chaos in Paris. “Civil disobedience,” Kalanick fired off in a rapid burst of messages. “Fifteen thousand drivers … 50,000 riders … Peaceful march or sit-in.” Uber’s vice-president for communications, Rachel Whetstone, responded cautiously, noting “just fyi” that Uber’s head of public policy for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Mark MacGann, was “worried about taxi violence” against Uber drivers.