Delhi rape victim files lawsuit against Uber, Kalanick and 2 executives

The woman who was raped by a driver of Uber while on a trip in Delhi in December 2014 has filed a lawsuit against the company, its founder Travis Kalanick, and two former executives, accusing them of violating her for a second time by “unlawfully” obtaining and sharing her medical records.

The unnamed victim, who resides in Texas, filed the lawsuit in California, where Uber is headquartered, charging Kalanick, former Asia-Pacific head Eric Alexander, and Emil Michael, a former vice-president for business at the taxi-hailing company, of invading her privacy.

“Uber executives duplicitously and publicly decried the rape, expressing sympathy for Plaintiff, and shock and regret at the violent attack, while privately speculating, as outlandish as it is, that she had colluded with a rival company to harm Uber’s business,” said the lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California.

The lawsuit follows a report by ReCode on June 7, and it alleged that Alexander had obtained medical reports of the victim, held them for more than a year, and showed them to Kalanick and other employees.

They were allegedly exploring the possibility that the victim had colluded with Uber’s chief rival, Ola, to derail the company’s growth plans in the country. India is the second-largest market for Uber, after it burnt over $2 billion and lost to local rival Didi Chuxing in China. The lawsuit is likely to increase scrutiny of Uber’s practices in India because the victim’s medical records were taken from Delhi without the authorisation of any court, the police, or the victim herself. “It is shocking that Travis Kalanick could publicly say that Uber would do everything to support our client and her family in her recovery when he and other executives were reviewing illegally obtained medical records and engaging in offensive and spurious conspiracy theories about the brutal rape she so tragically suffered,” said Douglas H Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen, the partners at law firm Wigdor LLP, in a joint statement.

“Rape denial is just another form of the toxic gender discrimination that is endemic at Uber and ingrained in its culture.”

Ola has said if the statements are true, they reflected on the character of the organisation.

“It is a shame that the privacy and morals of a woman have to be questioned in an attempt to trivialise a horrific crime,” Ola said in a statement last week.

“If this report were to be even remotely true, this is an all-time low on morality and a reflection of the very character of an organisation.”

The lawsuit comes at a time when Uber is without a chief executive because earlier this week Kalanick stepped down from the position temporarily. His decision came in the light of the findings of former US Attorney General Eric Holder’s report on the widespread gender inequality and other issues of mismanagement at the company.

Last week Uber had laid off 20 employees in relation to the investigations. The 20 did not include Alexander, which shocked many employees.

ReCode reported that soon after it got in touch with Uber questioning how Alexander had got access to the documents, the company said he was no longer an employee there.

Delhi rape victim files lawsuit against Uber, Kalanick and 2 executives

Uber rival Lyft acquires Pune-based FinitePaths to tap Indian talent Uber


US-based ride-hailing service Lyft has acquired Pune-based startup FinitePaths for an undisclosed sum as it follows its larger rival Uber in tapping India’s large talent base to solve its global technology problems.
Vinay Kakade and Balaji Raghavan, co-founders of FinitePaths, will join the Lyft team and will shut down their startup’s sole product offering which is available on Google and Apple’s app stores. The announcement comes at a time when India is emerging as a talent hub for ride-hailing companies.
“We are very excited to have Balaji and Vinay join our team. They have extensive experience building large scale infrastructure and services. We see this experience as playing a critical role in helping us tackle some of the unique challenges we have at Lyft,” said Luc Vincent, VP of Engineering at Lyft, in a statement.
The details of the deal were not disclosed, while the founders did not mention if the rest of the small team at FinitePaths would be transitioning to work with Lyft as well.
Uber opened its technology development centre in Bengaluru in February 2016, with the mandate to build solutions for the local market which could then be exported to other markets. The company’s ‘pay-by-cash’ model which was built out of India is now available in several Southeast Asian markets.
Apart from Uber, it’s Southeast Asian rival Grab recently announced its plans to setup a research centre in Bengaluru where it would employ 200 engineers that would largely work on payment technologies. The firm has already hired Raghuram Trikutam, former VP of engineering at digital payments firm Freecharge, to head its engineering at its India centre.
Similarly, Indonesian bike taxi service Go-Jek has acquired three Indian startups – Pianta, C42 Technologies and CodeIgnition, to shore up talent for its development centre here. The top management of Go-Jek India centre come from local service Ola which pioneered the ride-hailing market in the country.
Prior to starting FinitePaths Kakade headed engineering at Amazon’s CoudSearch division in India, while Raghavan quit Google in late 2015 as an Engineering Director at Google in the Bay Area. “The technical challenges are exciting and we believe we can make the right contributions based on our prior experience and what we have built at FinitePaths,” the two wrote in a joint post announcing the acquisition.
FinitePaths has stopped accepting new user signups for its Trial Answers app, which would serve users with local context laden answers for their questions, and said that it will shut down the app over the next two weeks.


Uber rival Lyft acquires Pune-based FinitePaths to tap Indian talent Uber