Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi urged employees to reflect on the "serious consequences" of the ride-hailing giant's battered reputation following the London transport authority's decision not to renew the firm's licence in the UK capital. On Friday (22 September), the regulator Transport for London (TfL) stripped Uber of its licence to operate in the city beginning in October after it concluded that the firm is "not fit and proper" to hold a private hire operator licence.
In an email to staff, Khosrowshahi said he was disappointed by the situation in London and noted he does not believe that everything being said about the company is true. However, he said "it is worth examining how we got here".
"While the impulse may be to say that this is unfair, one of the lessons I've learned over time is that change comes from self-reflection. So it's worth examining how we got here," Khosrowshahi wrote, Recode reports. "The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation."
"Irrespective of whether we did everything that is being said about us in London today (and 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."
Regulators said the decision was made "in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications" including reporting serious criminal offences and the use of its secret Greyball software in London among other offences.
The decision comes as a major blow for Uber and immediately drew massive backlash from users and drivers. More than 435,000 people have signed a petition to save Uber in London.
Uber said it would appeal the decision saying the move would not only "deprive you of the choice of a convenient way of getting about town" but put the "more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on our app out of work".
The loss of its London licence comes after months of controversies for Uber, including allegations of sexism and harassment, a high-stakes lawsuit with Google's Waymo over its self-driving technology, its use of secret software to track rival firms and deceive regulators, protests and regulatory battles around the world, and an exodus of top executives.
Khosrowshahi told employees that it is now "critical that we act with integrity in everything we do" going forward 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," he continued. "In doing so, we will show that Uber is not just a really great product, but a really great company that is meaningfully contributing to society, beyond its business and its bottom line."