For Uber, one if its challenges is the "big, powerful taxi industry," Tusk said, and that industry is formidable in both size and influence. The mainstay of Gotham's transportation industry, consisting of more than 13,000 yellow cabs, it transports more than 600,000 passengers per day, according to city data. A medallion, which grants the right to operate a cab, can run for more than $1 million at auctions, making them a powerful political constituency.
"They don't want to go away. They have a lot of lobbyists," Tusk said. "They have a lot of money and they are trying to use that to preempt and punish Uber wherever they can."
Just weeks ago, Uber sparred with New York City, which wanted to cap the growth of Uber and other for-hire vehicles through April 2016.
After Uber launched a public relations campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the company reached an agreement in July. After a fierce battle, the cap proposal has been tabled. Instead, a study will be conducted on the impact for-hire vehicles have on traffic, air quality, noise and public health.
The yellow taxis on the road in the city are capped near 13,500, with 63,000 for-hire vehicles, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Meanwhile, the taxi industry took issue with Tusk's characterizations.
"Uber uses the symbol of a powerful taxicab lobby thwarting its interests as a pretext to conduct illegal and unsafe operations. Cities, not taxi companies, make rules to keep people safe and protect their communities," said Dave Sutton, spokesperson for the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association's public safety campaign "Who's Driving You?"
New York Taxi Workers Alliance President Bhairavi Desai said the industry, which has a quarter of a million workers across the country, would not just "go away." She called Tusk's statement "as arrogant as it is ignorant and self-serving."
"And yes, with $50 billion and one-third more lobbyists than Wal-Mart, poor Uber is disadvantaged at fighting a regulated industry—ranging from driver co-ops to 15-car franchises to 150 medallions in NYC—it seeks to wipe out and replace with investor money and driverless cars," she added.
—CNBC's Kerima Greene and Kate Rogers contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Bhairavi Desai as a male.