MACGANN. Mark MacGann, the whistleblower behind the Uber Files is a former Uber lobbyist. At the Guardian, he details the questionable practices of the company and indicates that he approached Emmanuel Macron during the 2017 presidential campaign. Who is he?
[Mis à jour le 12 juillet 2022 à 12h16] Described as an Uber Group lobbyist in the Uber Files revelations, Mark MacGann was revealed to be the whistleblower on July 11, 2022. Former chief lobbyist in charge of Europe, Africa and the Middle East for the American firm between 2014 and 2016, the 52-year-old Irishman explained to the Guardian having left the company and wanting to denounce the practices of the former director of the company to make “honorable amends” and “correct [son] error”. The name of the Irishman has returned several times as one of the main interlocutors, with Travis Kalanick, Emmanuel Macron and one of the makers of the secret deal between the Minister of Economy and Uber. Since then, a new facet of Mark MacGann looms large in the Uber Files documents and the man’s interview with the British newspaper transcribed by French Radio : that of a strong support in the presidential campaign of Emmanuel Marcon in 2017.
If the privileged relationship between Mark MacGann and Emmanuel Macron was born for a specific purpose, to establish Uber on the French market, it was prolonged and extended to other political projects: the presidential campaign. It was in 2016 that the changeover took place and lobbyist, who left his full-time position at Uber to be no more than “senior adviser to the board of directors”, offered his help to the Minister of the Economy who seeks to create his party and finance his future campaign. Help that the young politician does not refuse, making the ex-lobbyist a strong support for the future Republic on the move. Mark MacGann’s contribution to Emmanuel Macron’s project is mainly due to the collection of financial support during dinners during which guests “are encouraged to contribute to the campaign up to the legal ceiling, 7,500 euros per year”, reports The world. If the new mutual aid between politicians and lobbyists can be questioned, Mark MacGann claims to have joined Emmanuel Macron’s political project out of “pure political conviction”, an enthusiasm for the minister’s above all economic program confirmed in documents consulted by the newspaper.
Still, it is Mark MacGann’s actions within Uber’s lobbying strategy and his recent denunciation of the company’s practices more than his political support for Emmanuel Macron that occupy people’s minds. Among the 124,000 confidential Uber documents transmitted to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) by the former lobbyist, several present him as a central figure in the Uber Files. “I am partly responsible, and that is what motivates me to do what I do as a whistleblower. It is obviously not an easy thing,” he admitted to the GuardianMonday, July 11.
What is Mark MacGann denouncing in the Uber Files?
He is a former executive of the VTC company Uber and the source who entrusted the thousands of confidential documents of the Uber Files to the media on July 10, 2022. Employed by the Californian firm from 2014 to 2016, Mark MacGann participated in the excesses and Uber’s not always clear practices. The 50-year-old cut ties with the company after being pressured and threatened by taxi drivers opposed to the company.
In the columns of Guardian, the man explains that Uber was aware of its illegality in most jurisdictions but the company followed the management’s “mantra” to the letter. “Don’t ask permission, jump in, hustle, recruit drivers, get out there, do some marketing and pretty soon people will wake up and see what an awesome thing Uber is.” A sluggish strategy which also involved agreements with politicians, including Emmanuel Macron. According to Mark MacGann, the man behind the company, Travis Kalanick, also had a particular view that the “only way to get governments to change the rules, legalize Uber and allow Uber to grow […] it was to keep the fight going, to keep the controversy going.” Even when the controversy was accompanied by violence against Uber drivers or company executives such as Mark MacGann.
“Dangerous” methods that the lobbyist denounces today but against which he says he could not do anything internally: “The corporate culture did not really allow resistance, to question the decisions of the company, its strategy or its practices. I ended up realizing that I had no influence, that I was wasting my time in this business.”
Who is Mark MacGann, the “Uber Files” whistleblower?
Mark MacGann is a 52-year-old man, of Irish nationality, who worked for Uber for two years, between 2014 and 2016. He held the position of chief lobbyist in charge of Europe, Africa and the Middle East . “I was hired by Uber to lead a team to develop and implement our strategy to lobby governments so that we can enter the market and grow, despite regulations that in most cases , prevented the establishment of Uber”, he explains in his interview with Guardian.
This man in the shadows, an essential cog in the deployment of Uber in many countries, rubbed shoulders with the highest placed personalities. “I don’t think I’ve ever had such easy access to senior government officials, heads of government, heads of state in my career. It was intoxicating,” he said. he.
The other side of the coin? He was one of the well-identified members of Uber during the crisis with taxis, especially in France. “I started getting insults on Twitter. Then I got yelled at at airports, train stations… Taxi drivers started following me. They were filming where I lived, knocking on doors, posting pictures of me with my friends, and my friends’ kids,” says Mark MacGann. Placed permanently under the protection of bodyguards, he ended up resigning.