Uber supposedly spent money on a secret programme that spied on the location of Lyft drivers from 2014 to early 2016. Called “Hell”, it ran parallel to Uber’s own “God View” or “Heaven” programme for tracking its own drivers.
The system began as a simple system of creating fake Lyft profiles to request rides and locate where competitor drivers were operating. This lead Uber’s data scientists to note that Lyft used a fixed driver ID, and that could be used to track their movement.
Uber’s discovery was then used to cross-reference Lyft driver locations with its own drivers to discover which of them were doing double duty for both services. These drivers would then be sent more rides by Uber, and would receive better incentives for picking up rides. Overall, Uber supposedly spent tens of millions on these drivers to ensure they favoured one side over the other.
The numbers showed that 60 percent of Lyft’s drivers were pulling double duty, which is likely why Uber tried this method to cripple the competition.
Hell was eventually discontinued when Lyft managed to raise additional funds to expand its reach. A situation that would have left Uber paying out too much in incentives to combat the opposition.
Not everyone at Uber was aware of Hell’s existence. Instead, it was made known to a handful of executives and data scientists. Uber has not responded to the report yet, although it is believe that CEO Travis Kalanick would often praise the efforts for being in line with the company philosophy.