The data breach is Uber's latest regulatory problem. Photo: Eric Gay / AP

In a second court hearing this week, Uber employees testified that a disgruntled former colleague, Richard Jacobs, attempted to extort money from the company when he sensed he was on the verge of getting fired. Jacobs made explosive allegations of misconduct by Uber in a letter he sent the company in May, which the Justice Department sent to the judge presiding over its dispute with Waymo last week.

The big question: As the presiding judge still wants to know, if Uber didn't find merit in the former employee's allegations that it was crossing legal and ethical lines and even believes he sought to extort a payout, then why did Uber agree to hire him as a consultant and pay him a hefty $4.5 million after the fact?

What's next: The trial has been delayed until early February.

More from today's hearing:

  • Angela Padilla, an in-house lawyer at Uber, testified that the former employee was caught exporting emails and other company documents, presumably as evidence for the claims he planned to make about Uber's practices. When confronted, he sent an email to executives with his claims and resigned.
  • According to Padilla, Uber agreed to settle with Jacobs to "take the air out" of his whistleblowing threats. Uber also decided to disclose the letter to the U.S. government after he threatened to do so.
  • "On the surface it looks like you covered it up," said the judge to Padilla. "To me it does not add up."
  • One employee, Mat Henley, testified that Uber's "non-attributable devices" were laptops, set up with temporary virtual machines (VMs) for certain security analysts to do research safely without their activities being tied to Uber's networks. According to him, this was critical to protect employees overseas when researching violent or criminal groups.
  • Henley testified that Jacobs was demoted because of poor work performance, but the company decided to fire him after he began stealing files.
  • He also admitted that Uber used to conduct surveillance on its competitors, but no longer does.
  • Another employee, Nick Gicinto, testified that he did not discuss Waymo or stealing its trade secrets during his trips to Pittsburgh to meet with the autonomous driving team.
  • "There's very little truth in that document," said Gicinto of Jacobs' letter about Uber's practices, adding that Jacobs never brought up any such concerns during his employment at Uber.

Go deeper

Updated 17 mins ago - Science

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed over 51,620 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1700 firefighters are battling 26 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: More than 8,100 wildfires have burned across a record 39 million-plus acres, killing 29 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 33,880,896 — Total deaths: 1,012,964 — Total recoveries: 23,551,663Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 7,232,823 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.

CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S.

Cruise Ships docked in April at the port at Marina Long Beach due to a no-sail order in Long Beach, in California. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

There have been at least 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like illness cases on cruise ships in U.S. waters, "in addition to at least 41 reported deaths," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Wednesday.

Driving the news: The CDC released the data from the period of March 1 through Sept. 29 in an emailed statement confirming the extension of a No Sail Order for cruise ships through Oct. 31, as first reported by Axios' Jonathan Swan on Tuesday in his article revealing CDC director Robert Redfield was overruled in a push to extend the order into 2021.