It seems strange to keep saying that Uber has had a significantly bad year, and then to keep saying that it keeps getting worse, and then for even more news to break about it getting worse, yet here we are. Somehow, the beleaguered Silicon Valley company — and former tech world darling — keeps managing to spiral further and further which each passing week. The latest indignity is a big one, and could impact the company far more than just some angry investors and bad public relations. This time it’s bigger than just losing a fraction of their customers, it’s criminal.
The Department of Justice has officially opened a criminal probe into Uber’s practice of using a secret software to avoid regulators in markets where the company had not yet been approved. Uber discontinued the use of the software, called “Greyball” internally, after a New York Times investigation uncovered the cagey practice. According to CNBC, sources are currently saying that the investigation is still in its earliest stages with minimal information available but that “the nature of any potential federal criminal violation, and the likelihood of anyone being charged, is unclear.”
While the scope of the probe and further details aren’t available quite yet, Uber certainly did not want things to reach this point and could be dealing with a federal inquiry for quite some time. Not exactly where the company wants to be spending its time or energy.