Uber survived the spy scandal. Their careers did not.


The relationship was strained, Mr. Gicinto recalls, and the two seemed uncomfortable sharing the leadership.

Yet their work accelerated rapidly. The group, which has grown to include dozens of employees, wanted to keep track of Uber’s competitors overseas, whether they are taxi drivers or executives at Chinese rideshare company Didi. But they also had to protect their own executives from surveillance and push back against web scratching operations, which used automated systems to collect information on Uber’s driver prices and supply.

It was an overwhelming task. To keep pace, the team has outsourced some of the projects to intelligence firms, who have dispatched contractors to infiltrate the driver protests. Other work has been done in-house, as Uber has built its own scratching system to collect large amounts of data on competitors. Scratching of public data is legal, but the law restricts the use of this data for commercial purposes.

The team rushed to hire more staff, and Mr. Gicinto recruited people he had known from his time with the CIA: a fellow agent, Ed Russo, and Jake Nocon, a former Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent. , who met Mr. Gicinto when they worked at the Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego.

When Jean Liu, the general manager of Didi, visited the Bay Area, Uber forwarded him. And when Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive at the time, visited Beijing, employees attempted to get rid of Didi’s watch teams, moving Mr Kalanick’s phones to other hotels. so that his location is reported in a place where he was not.

“For us, it was all a game of helping our leaders run their meetings without disclosing who they were meeting with,” said Mr. Henley, who led Uber’s global counter-threat operations. “And that was great fun, right?” It was a game of cat and mouse that came and went. “


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