The more one reads about Uber’s leadership and the manner in which it goes about conducting business and treating its employees, the harder it becomes to give the company the benefit of the doubt when a new bombshell report emerges. Indeed, it seems that we can’t even go a few days without seeing Uber appear in the news for all the wrong reasons.
The latest black mark on Uber’s reputation comes from Amir Efrati of The Information who writes that the ridesharing company, from 2014 through 2016, utilized a top-secret piece of software called “Hell” which was designed to keep the number of Lyft drivers on the road as low as possible.
Citing an employee who claims to have worked on the software, “Hell” was able to track the location of Lyft drivers looking for passengers. Further, the software was also able to identify which drivers also happened to work for Uber as well. With that information in tow, requests for rides were more likely than not routed to Uber drivers who also operated as Lyft drivers, even if other Uber drivers were closer to a passenger’s designated pickup location.
The rationale behind the software was simple: if individuals working for both Uber and Lyft were constantly kept busy picking up riders via the Uber app, it would necessarily diminish the number of available Lyft cars on the road.
In addition to using fake passenger accounts to see driver locations, Uber noticed that it could track each driver’s habits, and even figure out which ones were driving for both services by matching their locations. Uber then targeted these dual drivers with additional promotions to get them to shift more time to Uber, and routed rides to keep them busy and not picking up Lyft passengers.
While this allegation may seem outlandish at first glance, remember that Uber is the same company that had employees make and then cancel 5,560 Lyft rides in order to decrease driver availability, and in turn, make Lyft seem like a less appealing venture relative to Uber.