Uber chief admits there is ‘a high cost to a bad reputation’ post-London ban

Dara Khosrowshahi has been chief executive of Uber for less than a month

In a shockingly honest response to Uber losing its license in London, new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi told employees of the ride-hailing app that “there is a high cost to a bad reputation”, as he urged the company to “learn how to be a better partner to every city we operate in”.

The email sent by Khosrowshahi to employees on Friday (22 September) was first 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,” Khosrowshahi concludes.

“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.”

From his comments, it appears as though the ban in London could be what was needed to force the company to improve its systemic issues, including its use of Greyball software to allegedly sidestep regulators in the UK.

Transport for London (TfL), the city’s transportation authority, cited Greyball, among other offenses, when it declined to renew Uber’s license, saying the company’s “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”

The company has since started a Change.org petition to rally Londoners to reverse the decision to ban the company.

Khosrowshahi has been chief executive of the company for less than a month. He joined after co-founder Travis Kalanick resigned in June in the face of pressure from investors.

The company has been plagued in scandal this year due to mounting accusations of sexism, sexual harassment and regulatory abuse at the company.

The Drum reached out to Uber for comment on Khosrowshahi's email, but they did not respond by time of publication.

Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

All by Jessica