FROM BAD TO WORSE

How totally screwed is Uber right now?

How are things at Uber? Fine. Fine! Nothing to see here. I mean, sure:

Five U.S. senators want Uber to tell them when it discovered a massive data breach and what it did to respond.

Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley’s office says it’s investigating Uber over the ride-hailing company’s massive data breach.

Uber Technologies is being sued by the city of Chicago and Cook County on claims the ride-hailing company’s 2016 data breach harmed “tens, if not hundreds, of thousands” of area residents.

Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey, a Democrat, told WGBH-FM on Wednesday that she’s requesting documents and other information from Uber, adding her office is “keeping all criminal and civil options on the table.”

New York’s state attorney general has opened an investigation into a massive data breach at Uber.

New Mexico attorney general Hector Balderas wants Uber to release additional information about the ride-hailing company’s massive data breach, including how many New Mexico residents had their personal information exposed.

Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson is suing Uber, after the ride-hailing company waited more than a year to reveal that it had been hacked, resulting in the breach of personal data for customers and drivers.

The chair of the group of European data protection authorities—known as the Article 29 Working Party—said on Thursday the data breach would be discussed at its meeting on Nov. 28 and 29.

Oh alright, everything is not fine, but maybe Uber would pay you $100,000 to say it is? That was what it paid hackers to buy their silence after they stole the personal data of 50 million Uber riders and about 7 million drivers in October 2016. “None of this should have happened and I will not make excuses for it,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, who reportedly learned of the security breach two weeks into his job (paywall) as Uber CEO in September. That’s slightly better than his predecessor Travis Kalanick, who found out about the hack in November 2016 and authorized the $100,000 payment.

Meanwhile, Japanese tech giant SoftBank, which is contemplating a multibillion-dollar investment into the well-oiled machine that is Uber Technologies Inc., was informed of the incident (paywall) about three weeks ago, “consistent with our duty to disclose to a potential investor, even though our information at the time was preliminary and incomplete,” says Uber, which has rarely cared about its duty to do anything.

SoftBank was expected to launch its tender offer for Uber shares yesterday (Nov. 29), with an initial bid that would value the company at around $48 billion, a roughly 30% discount to its stated valuation of $68 billion. Of course, that was before the disastrous day Uber had in court against Waymo in San Francisco, where it was accused of operating a covert unit to steal code and trade secrets from competitors. To round it all out, Uber, which still doesn’t have a chief financial officer, also reported yesterday that its loss widened to $1.5 billion in the latest quarter, compared with $1.1 billion in the one prior. Employees eligible for SoftBank’s tender offer seem more eager than ever to sell their shares.

The truest statement about Uber this year is that just when you don’t think it can get worse, it gets worse. Sexual harassment, scheming executives, an ousted CEO, a shareholder lawsuit, a trade secrets lawsuit, disaffected employees, dissatisfied drivers, federal probes, and now, probably, a Congressional inquiry. Uber upended the taxi industry to bring you a car at the touch of a button by exploiting loopholes in some laws and flat-out ignoring others. That culture of legal “innovation” is now catching up to the company with a vengeance.

Kalanick, who encouraged much of Uber’s dubious behavior, was ousted from the CEO job in June, but he did not, and could not, take all of Uber’s problems with him. Despite the “general belief” that Khosrowshahi “has six months of slack until he starts getting tagged with Uber’s problems,” the data breach unveiled last week feels like the real demarcator. It happened on Kalanick’s watch but, unlike most other Uber scandals this year, was made public on Khosrowshahi’s. The Congressional inquiries, lawsuits, and attorney general investigations will also be Khosrowshahi’s to sort out.

You could almost feel bad for the guy, who wasn’t aware of this breach when he took the job, except this is Uber, so he should have known exactly what he was in for.

This post first appeared in Oversharing, a newsletter about the sharing economy. Sign up here.

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