An executive at Uber Technologies Inc. has come under fire for saying that the mobile car-booking startup should hire a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on journalists who are critical of the company.

Emil Michael, Uber's senior vice president of business, was speaking at a dinner in New York last week that included BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith, who reported on the comments Monday. Michael suggested the company was willing to spend $1 million to look into journalists' personal lives, according to BuzzFeed's article.

Uber, which fetched a valuation of $17 billion in a funding round in June, has been expanding operations at a breakneck pace since it debuted in 2009, offering services in more than 220 cities worldwide. The company has disrupted established taxi and limousine industries, with customers using their smartphones to book car services. Uber's efforts to promote and boost its business have drawn the attention of some regulators, as well as media outlets.