Monday, August 8

A leak reveals Uber’s strategies to achieve implantation in Spain


“Sometimes there are problems because we are fucking illegal”, can be read in a leak of secret documents about the transport company Uber leaked to the British newspaper Guardian and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its collaborating media, The country Y The sixth in Spain.

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The internal files of the company, always surrounded by controversy, reveal the details of how the company prepared its arrival in new markets, such as Spanish. First of all, they tried to get around the laws and then organize their lobbyist network in charge of putting pressure on high-ranking politicians that they chose carefully. If all this didn’t work, they were left with the “panic button”, which consisted of deactivating the company’s server machines and making it impossible to access their contents.

A chain of emails between two Uber executives reveals how the company sought to disembark first, and then take care of the problems that arose, such as the protests that arose among taxi drivers. “No, there are no examples, there is no investigation, we don’t stop to understand the legal framework,” say the messages, and acknowledge: “Sometimes we have problems because, well, it’s because we’re fucking illegal.” In the most complex markets, as the Spanish one turned out to be, the strategy is to develop “tactics to confront the authorities”, they come to recognize, according to the documentation published by El País and La Sexta.

Today, Uber has already established itself as a means of transport in Spain. In Madrid, it is estimated that there are more than 3,000 taxi drivers who use the Uber app to connect with their travelers.

Several spreadsheets collect more than 1,800 people of interest to the company and its managers differentiate them according to their degree of “hostility” or influence. For example, they tried, although not always successfully, to reach top politicians like Mariano Rajoy or Matteo Renzi. There are also details of private meetings to discuss the sector’s legislation with Macron – then head of Economy – or with Joe Biden in Davos.

Confrontation was his strategy: “In Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium they have developed interesting tactics to confront the authorities.” This writes in an email the director of Uber for Western Europe, Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty.

They come to define the process as “the pyramid of shit”, at the base of which are “the complaints of the drivers”, above the “regulatory investigations”, then the “administrative procedures” and above all the “direct legal actions”. ”.

Uber had a plan, a “panic button”, to disconnect its servers if necessary after the large sum of investigations and raids. The existence of this button is not something new, but the fact that it was used up to six times in 2015 is.

The meeting with Rajoy and other key Spaniards

In April 2015, Jim Messina, a former adviser to US President Barack Obama, has a meeting with then-Spanish President Mariano Rajoy. Months earlier, Messina had written to Mark MacGann, responsible for Public Policies for Europe at Uber, telling him about this meeting and asking him if he wants me to convey something in his favor. “It would be very useful to tell Manuel Rajoy (sic) that we can bring jobs and tax revenue, if even someone from his party listens to us”, answers McGann, according to La Sexta.

In this way, the postal chain reveals the company’s maneuvers to pressure the Spanish authorities and allow their activity in the country. According to sources close to Rajoy collected by La Sexta, the meeting with Messina did not take place. They point out that the then president never met “intermediaries or lobbyists.”

But Uber’s efforts to obtain the approval of the Spanish government date back months before his arrival. A company dossier includes 131 key names from the Spanish transport sector who had to be convinced to land in the country. Among them are the Ministers of Employment and Finance, Fátima Báñez and Cristóbal Montoro, the director of the Moncloa Economic Office, Álvaro Nadal, deputies, heads of consumer associations, various managers…

The firm managed to meet with the General Secretary of Transport of the Ministry of Public Works, Carmen Librero, of whom they point out that “it remained in a script based on respect for the law and on dealing with urban transport issues at a municipal level.” About the then minister Ana Pastor, they define her as an “experienced politician”, “interventionist” and “tough negotiator”. Sources from Pastor’s environment have revealed to El País and La Sexta that she did not meet with any representative of the company and that she does not remember any meeting.

Other officials with whom Uber met include the former Secretary of State for Telecommunications, Víctor Calvo-Sotelo or the then Minister of Economy, Luis de Guindos, who went so far as to say that taxi drivers would have to “adapt”.

When setting an eye on Catalonia, the company’s task list in 2014 included “getting President Artur Mas to go to the Uber offices in California during his official visit.” But from the former president’s office they point out that he has not had any contact with company officials.



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