Details emerged today about Uber’s plan, code-named “Operation Slog,” to recruit drivers away from rival car transport company Lyft. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick took to Twitter to defend himself after several Valley bigwigs slammed his tactics.
Uber’s latest plan involves having Uber employees order Lyft rides from burner phones, pretending to be normal riders, according to documents obtained by The Verge. Then they spend the ride trying to recruit the driver.
Previously, Lyft accused Uber of calling and then cancelling more than 5,000 rides on its service, costing its drivers time and money.
“Would it be controversial if we got in taxis and recruited taxi drivers and paid for the ride?” Kalanick tweeted, adding, “to be clear, we are paying for the rides, these are independent contractors working for multiple co’s.”
Both services are popular in San Francisco. News of the tactics, reported by the Verge, spread quickly on Twitter where all sorts of Valley bigwigs jumped in with opinions on it.
Jason Fried, founder & CEO at Basecamp (formerly known as 37signals) started the debate by taking Uber to task. In a series of tweets we’ve condensed that begin here, Fried tweeted:
I *understand* the @uber recruiting angle. A $US10 ride is the cheapest way to get in front of a strong lead/candidate…
…it’s just more about how it all /feels/. Like someone walking into your physical office, pulling up a chair, and recruiting your people…
…you’d surely kick them out of your office. You might even call the cops if they didn’t leave…
…It doesn’t matter if they left a $US10 bill in the tip jar on their way out.
Regardless, I still have deep respect for @uber and @travisk. I love the product. I’m a regular customer. What they have built is amazing…
…and we’re all entitled to a handful of bumps in the road when building our businesses… Just hope they do more of the great stuff.
That caused Kalanick to reply and also caused Fried’s cofounder and CTO of Basecamp, David Heinemeierhansson (@dhh), to jump in. (Heinemeierhansson is famous in the tech world for inventing a super popular Web programing language called Ruby on Rails.)
Which caused even more debate …
And it’s still going on right now.
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