Uber's top lawyer on Wednesday denied an allegation by an ex-employee that the company deliberately used secret messaging systems in an effort to hide the theft of trade secrets -- and that the allegation was part of an effort to extort money from Uber.
Angela Padilla, deputy general counsel at the company, said in court testimony that the allegation from ex-employee Richard Jacobs that the company took steps to cover its tracks when stealing trade secrets from Alphabet's Waymo was not true. She added that Jacob's claims were an effort to extort money from the company.
The evidence in question is a letter from Jacobs' attorney alleging that Uber advised employees to use ephemeral messaging systems, like Wickr, and non-attributable devices to hide their tracks to protect the company from potential litigation.
Padilla called Jacobs' claims meritless. Jacobs — a former Uber security analyst, was later paid $4.5 million after he left the company, Padilla said.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Jacobs's lawyer — Martha Boersch — said she was surprised by Uber's statement "because Mr. Jacobs's concerns about conduct at Uber have in fact been taken seriously by Uber, which is investigating and which referred those concerns to the U.S. attorney's office." Boersch further said that "Mr. Jacobs is a an honorable and honest man who found some conduct at Uber ethically troubling and potentially illegal, and he reported it."