Doc: Uber Sought Oppo Researcher To ‘Weaponize Facts’ Against Competitors

Uber recently sought to recruit an opposition researcher to “weaponize facts” against the company’s competition, according to a document obtained by Buzzfeed and published Thursday.

An anonymous source leaked the recruiting document to Buzzfeed after being disturbed by “recent reports on Uber’s aggressive business practice.” It’s not clear whether that source is a current or former Uber employee, or some other individual with access to the recruiting document.

The document appears to be an interview exercise for a position titled “Director of Research and Rapid Response.” It states that the recruits’ mission would be to “identify and weaponize the facts” about other incumbents in the transportation industry, “the truth about Uber and to do it one step ahead of the rest.”

Uber spokeswoman Kirsten Carvell told Buzzfeed that by “weaponize,” the document means “distilling sometimes dense or lengthy information (e.g. 75-page research reports, political contribution reports) into factual, bulleted
points.”

Uber and the taxi industry have been at odds essentially since the company’s inception. Most recently, the feud has escalated into vicious, dueling campaigns over whether passengers are more likely to be sexually assaulted by taxi drivers or ride-sharing company drivers.

Hiring a “director of research and rapid response” to respond to such public relations issues is a tactic ripped straight from the political playbook. Back in August, the company brought on David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign manager, to direct communications and branding for the company — and according to Buzzfeed, this new opposition research position would fall under Plouffe’s purview.

The leak of the document follows another Buzzfeed report that Emil Michael, a senior executive with Uber, suggested at a private dinner that the company hire a team of opposition researchers to dig up details of the private lives of members of “the press” who wrote critically of the company. Michael has since apologized and Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, called his remarks “terrible.”

Carvell, the Uber spokeswoman, told Buzzfeed that Michael was not referring to the opposition researchers mentioned in the document when he spoke about hiring opposition researchers to dig up dirt on adversarial reporters.

Read the document over at Buzzfeed.

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