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Uber CEO on losing London license: 'There is a high cost to a bad reputation'

  • Uber lost its license to operate in London, beginning in October.
  • Transportation regulators said the decision was made "in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications."
  • Dara Khosrowshahi, who was officially announced as Uber's new CEO at the end of August, sent an email to staff saying that disappointed by the situation in London.

Uber's CEO told employees they need to reflect on the "serious consequences" of the company's bad reputation, in light of a battle with London regulators.

Uber lost its license this week to operate in London, beginning in October. Transportation regulators said the decision was made "in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications."

The ride-hailing company has already come out strongly against London's decision, telling London regulators that the decision will "deprive you of the choice of a convenient way of getting about town" and "will also put more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on our app out of work."

Still, the accusation that Uber doesn't "play by the rules" comes on the heels of a rough few months for the Silicon Valley start-up. The company has been accused of using software to dodge local regulators in some areas, and has been under fire for its workplace culture and privacy practices. A report from the Wall Street Journal also indicated that Uber leased out dangerous cars in Singapore.

Dara Khosrowshahi, who was officially announced as Uber's new CEO at the end of August, sent an email to staff saying that disappointed by the situation in London, and that he doesn't believe everything being said about Uber in London is true.

But Khosrowshahi also wrote that employees should resist the urge to call all the criticism unfair, and should instead opt for "self-reflection."

"It's worth examining how we got here," Khosrowshahi wrote. "[I]t 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."

Here's a copy of the full email, previously reported by other outlets and independently obtained by CNBC:

From: Dara Khosrowshahi
Date: Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 12:53 PM
Subject: Re: Update on London's License

Thanks Pierre, and thanks to everyone working on this issue.

Like all of you, I'm hugely disappointed in the decision by London's Mayor and Transport for London. It could have profound negative consequences for the 40,000 drivers who depend on Uber for work and the 3.5 million Londoners who rely on Uber to get around.

It's particularly discouraging that this is happening in the UK, where the team has led the way on partnerships with local groups to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible and electric vehicles on the road.

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. 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.

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 meaningfully contributing to society, beyond its business and its bottom line.

Thanks for everything you're doing to make Uber the best company it can be, and particularly to our teammates in London and across the UK.

-Dara

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