The London transport authority’s decision not to renew Uber’s operating license has prompted Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, to counsel his employees on the “high cost” of a bad reputation.
Uber’s reputation has been in tatters for a year, following allegations of rampant sexism and regulatory abuse. Greyball, proprietary software which enabled the company to dodge law enforcement and regulatory officials, failures to report serious criminal offences or conduct sufficient background checks on drivers, and safety issues, were cited by Transport for London (TfL) as reasons for declining to renew Uber’s license.
In an email to employees published on Twitter by Bloomberg reporter Eric Newcomber, Khosrowshahi wrote:
“Irrespective of whether we did everything that is being said about us in London today (to be clear, I don’t think we did), it really matters what people think of us… especially in a global business like ours, where actions in one part of the world can have serious consequences in another.
“Going forward, it’s critical that we act with integrity in everything we do, and learn how to be a better partner to every city we operate in. That doesn’t mean abandoning our principles – we will vigorously appeal TfL’s decision – but rather building trust through our actions and our behavior. In doing so, we will show that Uber is not just a really great product, but a really great company that is meaningful contributing to society, beyond its business and its bottom line.”
TfL said Uber can continue to operate in London until an appeals process is exhausted, which could take months.
In the meantime, Uber is urging its London customers to sign a petition claiming TfL had “caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice”. That’s been the standard Uber response to date in disputes with other cities.