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Recode Daily: How Uber secretly tracked Lyft drivers

Plus, Bezos and Zuckerberg pen open letters, and John Oliver tweaks HBOmmmmmmmmmmm.

London From The Air Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images

Uber reportedly made secret internal software called “Hell” to track Lyft drivers — including those driving for both Uber and Lyft — so it could more easily lure riders away from its biggest ride-hail-app competitor. The system has since been discontinued, but opens Uber to more potential legal issues. [Amir Efrati / The Information]

In his annual open letter to Amazon shareholders, Jeff Bezos revealed his playbook for preventing Amazon from slipping into “painful decline … followed by death.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who also recently wrote a lengthy open letter on his timeline, discussed it in a Q&A with Fast Company. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]

People called Facebook crazy for spinning out its built-in messaging feature, Messenger, as its own separate app. Hundreds of millions did download the second app and, three years later, Messenger now has 1.2 billion users — twice the size of Instagram. [Kurt Wagner and Rani Molla / Recode]

Chinese investment in U.S. tech startups may have already peaked in 2015. One particular growth area stands out: Chinese-involved investment in AI and VR startups, both of which have consumer and military potential. [Rani Molla / Recode]

Lawyers for the passenger dragged from a United Airlines plane in Chicago filed an emergency court request to require the carrier to preserve surveillance videos, cockpit voice recordings, passenger and crew lists, and other material evidence. The incident has created a “catastrophic" PR problem for the airline. [Alana Wise / Reuters]

A lobbying group that represents Google, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and other web giants told FCC chairman Ajit Pai that the agency should keep and enforce Obama-era net neutrality rules, and outlaw so-called online fast lanes. Under Republican Pai’s draft plan, internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon could soon escape tough regulation. [Tony Romm / Recode]

How does Axios co-founder Mike Allen keep his access to Trump’s White House, even when he is critical of it? On the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Allen says the key is his track record of no-BS truth-telling, which dates back to his previous job at Politico. Listen now on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, or Soundcloud. [Eric Johnson / Recode]

Top stories from Recode

Snap will report earnings for the first time on May 10. Mark your calendars.

New robots are hitting the streets of San Francisco to deliver food to your doorstep. Marble’s ground-delivery robots may one day replace delivery drivers.

Burger King’s new ad deliberately gets your Google Home to talk about burgers. Be careful about putting your Home device near your TV.

The next big payments IPO could be a fast-growing startup not named Stripe. Adyen’s revenue grew 99 percent in 2016, while profits expanded.

Mossberg: A plan to preserve the internet. It should be protected for all, not sold off in pieces.

This is cool

John Oliver tweaks home-sweet-HBOmmmmmm. HBO’s new brand-campaign ad — bringing together 61 “not TV” stars to spoof and celebrate its iconic, hypnotic show-opening chord — is undeniably cool. But “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver’s mega-meta-parody — which features the stars of “Silicon Valley,” “Westworld,” “Veep” and “Game of Thrones” — is the coolest, cutting through all the competitive static. [Ann-Christine Diaz / Advertising Age]

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