🚘 Inside the “Uber Files” - The Hustle
The Hustle

🚘 Inside the “Uber Files”

Plus: Theaters are back, a brand growing the game of golf, and more.

If you’ve felt limited by the emoji reaction choices in iMessage, Zuck’s got your back. Meta’s CEO announced that WhatsApp users will soon be able to use any emoji as a reaction on the app. His faves include a robot face, french fries, and a fist bump.

In today’s email:

  • The Uber Files: A major whistleblower leak.
  • Chart: The box office is back.
  • Eastside Golf: A brand bringing diversity to the game.
  • Around the Web: Prized bird photos, how to set boundaries, a video game heist, and more interesting internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s quick podcast to hear us break down the comeback of movie theaters, diversity in golf, a shortage of babies, and what might be the most closely watched job search in America.

The big idea

Leaked Uber documents reveal shady business

Buckle up, ‘cause this one’s a doozy.

Ex-Uber exec Mark MacGann leaked 124k+ emails, texts, and messages that reveal questionable behavior among execs — including MacGann himself — as the rideshare giant expanded.

The so-called “Uber Files” — obtained by The Guardian and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) — date back to 2013-17 when co-founder Travis Kalanick ran the company.

Kalanick resigned in 2017 due to pressure from shareholders amid accusations that Uber lied to authorities and fostered a hostile workplace culture.

Here’s the tea

Uber’s expansion met fierce resistance from the global taxi industry, which feared Uber’s convenience and cheap fares, subsidized by investors, would jeopardize livelihoods.

Things got particularly chaotic in Marseille, France, in 2015, where pro-taxi demonstrators blocked roadways and burned tires.

  • Uber wanted its drivers to counterprotest. When one exec expressed concern for their safety, Kalanick replied, “I think it’s worth it. Violence guarantee[s] success.”

MacGann told The Guardian that “weaponizing” drivers was a strategy Uber used to keep controversy brewing and win favor with local governments.

But wait, there’s more

The documents also suggest that Uber:

  • Offered financial stakes to influential figures around the world
  • Paid academics to produce research supporting its economic claims
  • Knowingly ignored and evaded local laws
  • Secretly met with and schmoozed world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, then-French Economy Minister

What does Uber have to say about this?

Uber said it wouldn’t make excuses for past behavior, but instead hopes to be judged on its last five years under the leadership of Kalanick’s replacement, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Meanwhile, Kalanick’s spokesperson denied many of the claims in The Guardian and ICIJ’s reporting, and expressed doubt over the documents’ authenticity.

But, considering that The Guardian shared the Uber Files with 180 journalists in 29 countries, even more dirt is expected in the coming days.


Early access: Apple launched its first public beta for iOS 16, meaning users can get access before it officially goes live in September. New features include more customization options on lock screens and the ability to edit texts after sending them.

Baby shortage: For the first time since WWII, the global population grew by less than 1% between 2020 and 2021. Europe’s population actually declined during the pandemic, and 61 countries are expected to see population declines of 1%+ between 2022 and 2050.

Cooling off: In June, 15% of all sale agreements on American homes were canceled, the highest rate since early 2020. Analysts believe higher mortgage rates and increased inflation are causing buyers to reconsider their purchases.

Slashed: Klarna, the Swedish “buy now, pay later” giant, raised $800m at a $6.7B valuation, down 85% from its valuation during its previous funding round last year.

Planning ahead: Good inventory management ensures your business can produce the products your customers need on time, but the pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench in the process. Learn how to adapt your inventory planning to fit the new reality on the Hustle blog.

Bargains: Activewear brand Athleta will open its first two outlet stores in Chicago and Leesburg, Virginia, as it seeks to expand and reach new markets. #ecommerce-retail


Cool: Barcelona-based sustainable construction startup 011h raised a ~$25m Series A. In a recent project, 011h slashed the embodied carbon — CO2 emissions associated with a project’s materials and construction processes — by over 90%. #clean-energy


So tiny: Researchers made a remote-controlled robot that looks like a crab and is smaller than a flea. The idea is that microbots might one day be useful to repair machines or even human beings. #emerging-tech


Bearish: A survey of 950 investors found that 60% believe Bitcoin is more likely to drop to $10k than climb back up to $30k. As of Monday morning, Bitcoin had dropped 2.4% to ~$20.4k. #fintech-crypto


Amazon’s Prime Day will include games this year, offering 30+ free downloads of titles including “Mass Effect Legendary Edition,” “Grid Legends,” and “Need for Speed Heat.” #big-tech


MFM: Shaan Puri and Sam Parr discuss the “most hated man in America.” #mfm


Singdhi Sokpo

Movies are back with a vengeance

For the better part of the last few years, movie theaters were declared “dead.”

But that narrative’s recently been flipped on its head.

One interesting stat: The year-to-date box office is down approximately 30% from 2019. But the overall number of wide releases in 2022 is down roughly the same amount — meaning, on a per-film basis, movies appear to be doing just fine.

More than fine, actually.

  • Thor: Love and Thunder and Minions just combined for the first consecutive $100m+ opening weekends since 2018.
  • This past weekend saw $236m in domestic box office sales, up ~28% from the same weekend in 2019 when Spider-Man: Far from Home, Toy Story 4, Aladdin, Yesterday, and Midsommar were all in theaters.

So, while the overall box office is still down from pre-pandemic times, the popcorn is definitely poppin’.

Bonus: Read our piece about how teens in suits are changing moviegoing with a hilarious meme.

Growing the Game

Can a lifestyle brand grow the game of golf?

Golfers have defaulted to polos and slacks for decades.

But a new lifestyle brand is evolving what golf apparel can look like and, in the process, bringing new players to the sport, per Bloomberg.

Eastside Golf…

… was founded by Olajuwon Ajanaku and Earl Cooper, former teammates at Morehouse College, a historically Black college in Atlanta.

When Ajanaku attempted to go pro after graduation, Cooper introduced him to an artist to make a logo he could wear on his gear. The logo:

  • Featured a cartoon depiction of Ajanaku in jeans, a sweatshirt, and a gold chain
  • Received praise from onlookers off the course, which led Ajanaku to start the business

In 2020, the logo generated buzz at a PGA trade show, giving the duo confidence Eastside Golf could be successful.

Since then…

… the pair has notched a series of partnerships, including:

  • CAA, which has helped the brand land several collabs, including with Jordan Brand.
  • The NBA. A recent collection, “Playing Golf After This,” calls out the end of the NBA season.

What’s next?

Despite partnerships with the NBA and MLB, the brand hasn’t reached an agreement with the PGA Tour, which, perhaps ironically, claims one of its primary purposes is to “grow the game.”

Golf has a long history of diversity problems, but Ajanaku and Cooper believe Eastside can help start conversations that bring more diversity to the sport.


🔥 On this day: In 1979, rock DJ Steve Dahl blew up a dumpster full of disco records at Chicago’s Comiskey Park during a game between the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. But the “Disco Demolition” turned into chaos, resulting in 39 arrests and a Tigers victory by forfeit.

🦅 That’s cool: Check out the winners of the National Audubon Society’s Audubon Photography Awards to see some amazing bird photos.

👾 That’s interesting: The story of a man who spent nearly 30 years collecting the world’s rarest video games until, in a brazen heist, someone stole them.

😊 How to: Learn to set and keep boundaries in your everyday life.

🐾 Aww: And now, a curious Pallas’ cat.


The popcorn’s a-poppin’. (Source: imgflip.com)

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