Uber reportedly used a secret program called ‘Hell’ to track rival Lyft drivers
A report published Wednesday said Uber used secret software called “Hell” to track drivers using its biggest competitor in the US, Lyft, and to monitor which of Lyft’s drivers also drove for Uber.
The report said Uber used software to edit the location of each Lyft account, arranging the accounts in a way that it was able to see the location of Lyft cars across an entire city.
A representative for Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Why the ominous name for the software? “Hell” was reportedly named to be in contrast with Uber’s internal “God Mode” and “Heaven” view of its drivers.
Uber and Lyft have a long-running rivalry that has led to accusations of foul play by both companies. In 2014 it was reported that Uber gave contractors burner phones and credit cards to help them recruit Lyft drivers to the platform. And last year Lyft was found to be using Uber rides in an attempt to recruit drivers to its Premier service.
The latest report is just the latest negative story about Uber, which has seen a firestorm of bad press over the past several months:
- The company has been accused of systematic sexism and gender bias by a former employee, prompting an internal inquiry.
- Its CEO, Travis Kalanick, has been attacked over his relationship with the Trump administration.
- Reports have described an “aggressive” workplace culture.
- The company has been sued by Google’s self-driving-car unit, Waymo, which is accusing Uber’s self-driving-car boss of stealing confidential material and copying Waymo’s designs.
- Kalanick was caught on video in a heated argument with an Uber driver over pay, telling the driver “some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own s—.”
- News broke that Uber was using a secret “Greyball” tool to deceive government authorities around the world.
- It emerged that Uber had lied about its self-driving cars, which skipped multiple red lights.
- Leaked data showed that Uber’s self-driving cars still relied heavily on humans last year, with drivers being forced to take back control more than once a mile on average.
- Business Insider’s Alexei Oreskovic reported that sources said “attracting new employees and bolstering internal morale has become increasingly difficult as the company tries to overcome its tarnished reputation.”
- Multiple high-level executives have left the company, including president Jeff Jones (who cited “differences over beliefs and approach to leadership”), the vice presidents of maps and growth, and PR head Rachel Whetstone.
- It came out that in 2014, Uber execs — including Kalanick and right-hand man Emil Michael — led a team visit to a karaoke-escort bar in South Korea.