Mark MacGann is the man who gave the Guardian 124,000 messages and internal documents that led to the Uber Files. For two years, he was one of Uber’s top public affairs executives for Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East. For two years, he was one of Uber’s main public affairs managers for Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
A major investigation involving forty international newspapers, including Le Monde and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), also took part in the document analysis.
This wide-ranging journalistic investigation ‘Uber Files’, reveals how Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of Economy between 2014 and 2016, secretly helped the US company Uber set up shop in France, allowing Uber frequent and direct access to him and his staff, even telling the company that he had negotiated a secret ‘deal’ with his opponents in the French cabinet
This was despite the reluctance of the government to which he belonged and after the violent taxi protests in France in 2015, during which several Uber drivers and their customers were physically attacked.
In defence of Emmanuel Macron, Mark MacGann admits he lied “I was the one talking to governments, I was the one pushing this with the media, I was the one telling people they should change the rules because drivers were going to benefit and people were going to have so much economic opportunity,” he said. “When that turned out not to be the case – we had actually sold people lies.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, MacGann said he was partly motivated by remorse. he decided to speak out, he said, because he believes Uber knowingly flouted laws in dozens of countries and misled people about the benefits to drivers of the company’s on-demand economy model.
In an effort to quell the violent backlash against the company and secure changes in taxi and labor laws, Uber planned to spend $90 million in 2016 on lobbying and public relations, according to a document.
Its strategy often involved going over the heads of city mayors and transport authorities and directly to the seat of power.
In addition to Macron, Uber executives met with Biden in Davos, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and George Osborne, the then British chancellor. A note from the meeting portrays Osborne as a “strong advocate”.
After his meeting with Kalanick (co-founder of Uber), Biden appears to have modified his prepared speech at Davos to refer to a CEO whose company would give millions of workers “the freedom to work as many hours as they want, to run their own lives as they want”.
In a statement responding to the leak, Uber acknowledged “mistakes and missteps”, but said it had transformed itself since 2017 under its current CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi.
“We do not and will not make excuses for past behaviour that is clearly not consistent with our current values,” he said. “Instead, we are asking the public to judge us on what we have done over the past five years and what we will do in the years to come.”