Uber’s “God View” & The Sociopathic Business Model™: Case Study
October 4, 2014
#Boycott Uber <—-Join
What is it with these startup Gods of Frauds and their obsession to “rule the world” or their need to feel God-like? Were they not hugged enough as children? Kashmir Hill of Forbes recently reported on Uber’s “God View” :
One of the go-to Uber party tricks for the events (lavis launch parties) is to treat the attendees to Uber’s “God View,” which lets them see all of the Ubers in a city and the silhouettes of waiting Uber users who have flagged cars. When it’s anonymous, it’s a cool trick.
The problem is, these things are never anonymous, someone always has the data, and egos that big cannot resist the urge to show-off. Let’s also remember that fact based evidence over time is the best indication of the future especially in relation to The Sociopathic Business Model™
Julia Allison, an attendee at a launch party in Chicago in September 2011, says Uber treated guests to Creepy Stalker View, showing them the whereabouts and movements of 30 Uber users in New York in real time. She recognized half of the people listed and texted one of them, entrepreneur Peter Sims, revealing that she knew his current whereabouts. He was pissed when he found out, eventually quitting the service because he felt like he could no longer trust it. His post about being publicly stalked by the company has now gone viral, but Uber refuses to comment, and another guest at the event says he doesn’t remember it happening.
Julia Allison at Uber’s Chicago launch party in September 2011 (Via Uber’s Facebook page)
It was 9 p.m. Chicago time, so 10 p.m. in the city that never sleeps. “I recognized about half of the names,” she says. She had recently met one of the tracked users, Sims, and thought it would be funny to text him. Sims got the text “from someone he hardly knew,” he recalls in a Medium post, asking him if he was in an Uber car at 33rd Street and 5th Avenue. He was on his way to Penn Station to catch a train to D.C. “She continued to text with updates of my car’s whereabouts,” he recalls, which freaked him out. When she revealed how she knew where he was and that it was being broadcast at an Uber party in Chicago, he was “outraged.” Oddly, it took him three years to express that outrage publicly, but he’s now demanding an explanation and an apology from Uber, in a Medium post and in a letter to Kalanick and co-founder Garrett Camp. “I am not a professional journalist,” Sims tells me by email of the reason for the delay.
“I texted him because it was innovative and exciting, but he obviously didn’t agree,” says Allison. She doesn’t recall the other people whose locations were broadcast, but thinks there was at least one Uber employee in the bunch and other “tech celebs.” Another attendee at the event, Harper Reed, the former chief technology officer for the Obama campaign, said he didn’t remember this happening, tweeting that there were “usage visualizations” in Kalanick’s presentation but that he doesn’t remember “names or photos.” He does add a caveat that he left the event early.
But Allison did know where Sims was in real time. Was it intentional or a slip-up, revealing an Uber “More Powerful God View” admin screen? “Some people get so bent out of shape over nothing. I see the potential for misuse but it’s not like they were going to release the information,” Allison says.
Case Study of Uber’s God View:
Julia Allison, an invited guest of Uber, followed a pattern set by the host which could also mean they targeted like-minded businesses. Regarding this event in particular Julia Allison’s tone and actions exhibited:
Inconsistent & Contradictory language to actions: She refers to “God View” as a Creepy Stalker Show and yet proceeded to be just that, Creepy and Stalker-like with someone she barely knew, Peter Sims.
Mr. Sims was an accomplice to Uber (or customer of Uber) until he became a victim. Remember under this model all accomplices eventually become victims.
Glib and superficial charm: Julia Allison thought it would be funny to text him (Peter Sims) someone she did not know well.
Manipulated and did not recognize the rights of others: “I texted him because it was innovative and exciting, but he obviously didn’t agree,” says Allison.
Lack of shame, remorse, guilt or accountability
Poor behavior control
Quick to place blame
Unethical behavior: “Some people get so bent out of shape over nothing. I see the potential for misuse but it’s not like they were going to release the information,” Allison says.
Expect of course when it does get out (like in a Forbes article) more inconsistent and contradictory language to action from Ms. Allison. The information was already released unethically. Hypothetical example:
What if Mr. Sims told a friend who was attending the Uber party that he was out of town and the party revealed that he wasn’t? It could have been something innocent like he just got back into town or maybe he didn’t want someone to know where he was but the unethical release of this information could cause both professional and person hardship to Mr. Sims. What if Mr. Sims was working on a private deal and the unethical release of this information cost him millions or billions? It’s fully recognized Ms. Allison cannot relate to such an event in her glib response; but, Uber should start making ethical policy changes quickly or it could cost them.
Or what if someone inside Uber wants to “God View” for a friend who suspects a spouse is cheating? If that information obtained unethically (possibly illegally) led to divorce could the data become subpoenaed? It seems like Uber’s wanting to take the same liberties as Google who now thinks they are the NSA. Google patted themselves on their back for catching a sex offender; but, I guess the rest of us are supposed to forget Google trolls through our data on the regular because they can and not because they have cause. This is a dangerous and slippery slope; again, lost on the likes of the glib Ms. Allison who is not known for valuing her internet privacy. In fact, I think that’s really the only thing she is known for, airing her life on the internet.
Another attendee at the event, Harper Reed, the former chief technology officer for the Obama campaign, said he didn’t remember this happening, tweeting that there were “usage visualizations” in Kalanick’s presentation but that he doesn’t remember “names or photos.” He does add a caveat that he left the event early.
Blaming the victim (Peter Sims) is never the answer. And given that another attendee doesn’t remember it the same as Ms. Allison brings up a few interesting points: Was she given private information and chose to exploit that information without regard for Uber? Or did it happen as she describes and Uber’s: refusal to comment just provides further fact based evidence over time that they engage in unethical activity and turned their customers (accomplices) into victims? Or are the demonstrating they’re rarely challenged at work and prefer to work that way? Uber will have to respond, it will be #PRSpin and this site will do the follow-up and make sure it’s #PRSpinUnSpun through the model.
As always, each person reading should apply the facts as they see them in order to make the best personal decisions. For me, it just confirms again through fact based evidence over time that I would not want to do business with Julia Allison or Uber. Any information is good information it just depends on if and how its decided to be used. Mr. Sims coming forward and exposing the truth about unethical behavior may be what’s necessary to get some forced accountability for Uber.
Customers aren’t meant to be used and exploited (victimized)
as some sort of parlor trick at the whim
of an ego-driven CEO to entertain his buddies at a party.
The more that drop Uber’s service until changes in policy are made
the more likely Uber will have to address the issues publically, take accountability
and create positive change for the benefit of their customers.