Upon discovering the flaw in their rival company’s system, Uber decided that they should use it to their advantage and make sure that Lyft will remain in second place. That’s why they created a new program called “Hell” and used it to spy on Lyft’s drivers during a two-year period, from 2014 to 2016. The program was named “Hell” as a counterpart to the system the company uses for tracking their own drivers, and that’s called “Heaven”, and also “God View”. Even though Heaven is available to most of the company employees, only a chosen few had access or even knew about Hell.
Project Hell first started when Uber decided to make a fake Lyft rider accounts that would be used to trick the rival’s system and make it believe that they’re in different locations around the city. The fake riders would be positioned in a way that gives Uber the view of an entire city, and also Lyft’s drivers’ locations. They would be able to see the locations of up to eight real drivers per every fake rider that they created.
During this spying operation, Uber realized that Lyft’s drivers don’t change their IDs and that this can be used to learn their habits since they’ll always know who is who. They, then, used the data that they collected to pinpoint which ones’ practice “double-apping“, and drive or them as well.
After they discovered this, they made a plan that was meant to bring all of the double-appers to their side, and since over 60% of Lyft’s drivers were double-appers, this was Uber’s plan to cripple their rival. After figuring out which of the drivers will they target, Uber started giving them special benefits, weekly bonuses, and rewards for achieving a certain number of rides per week. They actually ended up giving away tens of millions of dollars every week through these “bonuses”.
The program was terminated somewhere during 2016 after Lyft decided to expand their services to more cities.
A request for a statement was sent to Uber, but so far, no statement has been given. On the other hand, Lyft admitted that they’re in a competitive industry, but that these allegations are still very concerning. Several law firms that formerly worked with Uber stated that this could mean a lot of trouble for the company since they could face charges for unfair business practices, breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets and even the violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.