Things appear to be going from bad to worse for Uber Technologies, Inc.
On Thursday, Reuters reported that the Department of Justice has begun a criminal investigation into the company's use of a software program known as "Greyball." The software tagged authorities and helped the ride-hailing service evade regulators in cities where it was not yet approved.
In a damning story last month, the New York Times detailed how Uber used the software to cancel ride requests from rivals and regulators in cities where it was yet to receive permission for operations. In response to the article, lawmakers in the Netherlands and Portland, Ore., asked for an investigation into its use in their jurisdictions. The San Francisco-based company did not deny the software's existence. Instead, it said that Greyball was used to keep passengers who had been blacklisted by Uber from using the service.
That same month, Gary Marcus, who was responsible for setting up the company's new artificial intelligence division, announced that he was stepping aside from his position and moving back to New York as "Special Advisor" to the company. He came to Uber via an acquisition in December 2016. "The formation of Uber AI Labs, to be directed by Geometric's Founding CEO Gary Marcus, represents Uber's commitment to advancing the state of the art, driven by our vision that moving people and things in the physical world can be radically faster, safer, and accessible to all," wrote the company's chief product officer Jeff Holden in December 2016. (See also: How Uber Is Betting on AI.)
Recent developments at Uber are one in a series of crises for the company which has been rocked by an assortment of scandals that include a lawsuit filed by Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Waymo and sexual harassment allegations that led to an admission by its CEO that he needed "leadership help." (See also: Alphabet's Self-Driving Unit Sues Uber.)