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Photo: Jaap Arriens / Getty Images

Confirming much of his testimony in court, a letter written by a former Uber employee's attorney outlines claims that the ride-hailing company was using covert methods of communications to evade legal discovery and gather information about competitors, including trade secrets.

Yes, but: During his testimony in court, Jacobs backtracked on the letter's claim that he had knowledge of Uber using special covert tactics to steal trade secrets from Waymo.

More: Earlier on Friday, the court's special master assigned to the case issued a report on the matter, in which he concluded that while Uber did not have to turn over Jacobs' resignation email and eventual settlement as part of the requested documents, it should have disclosed his 37-page letter.

Backstory: The letter emerged in this lawsuit in late November after the Justice Department notified the presiding judge of its existence because it includes claims about Uber's theft of Waymo's trade secrets. In court, Uber's assistant general counsel Angela Padilla said that the company perceived that letter as an attempt to extort money from Uber (it eventually settled with Jacobs and his lawyer for a total of $7.5 million). Other then-Uber employees testified that Jacobs was fired for poor performance, not for objecting to illegal and unthetical practices. Jacobs denied this, saying he had never received negative performance feedback until that point.

  • Still, many of the practices outlined in the letter are alarming (though not all have been substantiated). They include impersonating drivers, riders, and protestors, bribing foreign officials, recording competitors and employees without their knowledge, and using untraceable devices for communication.
  • Note that Joe Sullivan, Uber's then-chief security officer who oversaw all of these competitive intelligence teams, was fired last month because of his decision to conceal a data breach in October 2016. And so was an in-house attorney who worked under Sullivan and worked with Jacobs' team.
  • After the letter emerged, Uber's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, and new general counsel, Tony West, both warned the company that such practices will no longer be tolerated even if legal.

From Uber:

While we haven’t substantiated all the claims in this letter—and, importantly, any related to Waymo—our new leadership has made clear that going forward we will compete honestly and fairly, on the strength of our ideas and technology.

Here's the full (court-redacted) letter:

Go deeper

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.