Uber’s Greyball

When Uber launched, there was no law for ride-sharing.

Uber went all out – incentivising users to join the platform and completely ignoring the city regulators.

They weren’t breaking any law, because there was no such law.

There was only chaos.

Regulators did their part. They would catch drivers and write them “thousands of dollars in civil and criminal penalties—lack of proper insurance, public safety violations, required permits—and threaten to impound the vehicle.” – Mike Issac

To combat this situation, Uber came up with a creative solution. The company built a sophisticated system to greyball the regulators.

“Greyball was a snippet of code affixed to a user’s Uber account, a tag that identified that person as a threat to the company.

They were served up a fake version of the Uber app, populated with ghost cars. They had no chance of ever capturing the rogue drivers. They might not even know if drivers were operating at all.” – Mike Issac

Under the new leadership, Uber has realised it could no more operate like a pirate ship.

Today, once again – there is no law for aerial ride-sharing.

But this time the company is building the Uber Air infrastructure in collaboration with the regulators.

Reference – Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Issac

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