2017 has not been gentle to Uber. Between the sexual harassment allegations, video of Uber’s CEO being a jerk, and reports of an insidious program to avoid government inspectors, it’s not a good time for one of the tech industry’s biggest startups.
But believe it or not, things are getting worse. Two separate events have unfolded today: Taiwan’s government seized Uber assets in lieu of tax payments that the government claims Uber owes; and a report suggests that Spotify is considering cutting ties with Uber over the ride-sharing company’s recent bad PR.
The asset-seizing is just the latest move in a long-running dispute with Taiwan’s government over taxation. The National Taxation Bureau seized bank deposits worth $380,000, a fraction of the amount that the Bureau says Uber owes in back taxes. The amount of money is minor compared to Uber’s total available cash, but the move may negatively effect Uber’s ability to conduct business in Taiwan.
More pressingly, having assets frozen by the government looks bad as hell.
Then there’s the Spotify rumor. According to The Verge, an internal email to employees highlights Spotify’s concerns with Uber’s business practices, and confirms that Spotify has at least considered cutting ties with Uber:
For me, given the views I’ve shared with you regarding Uber and the practices that have been on display there recently, even staying on Uber is not a straightforward decision,” wrote Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s head of product. “But it also doesn’t feel right to punish our users by pulling support for the API. I’d rather try to change behaviour by participating and showcasing what we believe in.
Again, this doesn’t pose a material threat to Uber: it just doesn’t look good.