11 October 2017
Getting around the law is a key factor of the business model for gig economy enterprise Uber, key employees have told Bloomberg.
Interviews with senior executives and other staff conducted by the news outlet, revealed that a culture of rule-breaking was fostered in the company under the control of co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick.
Bloomsberg reported that Kalanick set up a legal department with the specific aim of finding loopholes in law, and hired senior staff for their willingness to push legal boundaries or turn a blind eye.
When Uber met with legal difficulties as a result of this culture, Kalanick hired Salle Yoo as his Legal Chief, and who said in a podcast earlier this year: “We’re not here to solve legal problems. We’re here to solve business problems. Legal is our tool.” According to staff who spoke to Bloomberg, she was brought on board to help Kalanick identify whether a loophole could be found for the firm to ignore taxi regulations.
“This is the first time as a lawyer that I’ve been asked to be innovative,” Yoo told Legal TeamNetwork podcast. “What I’m hearing from this is I actually don’t have to do things like any other legal department. I don’t have to go to best practices. I have to go to what is best for my company, what is best for my legal department. And I should view this as, actually, freedom to do things the way I think things should be done, rather than the way other people do it.”
Uber’s leadership deliberately take advantage of weaknesses in the local legal system, three sources told the news website, recalling a meeting in which Kalanick answered a query over whether employees need to follow ride-hailing laws by saying it depends on whether the law is being enforced.
Bloomberg’s sources also revealed that Uber had hired private investigators to monitor at least one employee, and that its Security Chief Joe Sullivan took on the role of deputy general counsel at the company so that he could send emails protected by attorney-client privilege and thus difficult for prosecutors to subpoena.