Uber is officially no longer allowed to operate in London — and its chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, is arriving in the city today to fight its case.
Two weeks ago, the city’s transport authority, Transport for London (TfL) shocked the startup and its customers by revoking its private hire license.
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TfL raised concerns over Uber London’s practice, saying that the startup was “not fit and proper” to hold a private hire operator license.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s new chief executive, will visit the commissioner of TfL, Mike Brown, today (3 October) to discuss the ruling and find ways for it to regain its license.
Our new CEO is looking forward to meeting with the commissioner … As he said on Monday, we want to work with London to make things right.
In addition, the startup is also facing other problems on the home front. Uber London’s head Jo Bertram has officially left the company to move on to “something new and exciting”. The decision to leave is not based on TfL’s ruling as Bertram reportedly handed in her resignation back in August.
In an email sent to staff, she said:
“Given some of our current challenges, I’m also convinced that now is the right time to have a change of face, and to hand over to someone who will be here for the long haul and take us into the next phase.”
A difficult situation
Khosrowshahi has inherited a difficult situation as the startup’s new leader. The former chief executive, co-founder Travis Kalanick, was ousted earlier this year after becoming embroiled in a series of scandals.
The startup has been banned in several markets, from across Europe, to Asia and even cities in the US.
In addition, allegations of sexual harassment at the company were so bad earlier this year, that the board brought it the former US attorney general Eric Holder to conduct a review. This lead to Uber firing 20 employees after receiving more than 215 complaints about sexual harassment and other bad behaviours.
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Indeed, one of TfL’s concerns was over the way the company had failed to report some sexual assaults by its drivers.
However, Khosrowshahi has said he wants to turn Uber around for this bad image, to make it IPO-able no less. In an open letter to Londoners, he said:
It’s … true that we got things wrong along the way. On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made.
His meeting with Brown will be an attempt to rectify these mistakes.
What’s next for Uber?
Uber London’s license expired last week, on 30 September, and Uber has until 13 October to launch an appeal against the decision.
The startup will be allowed to operate in London during the appeals process. This could take at least 12 months, meaning Uber’s cars will still be on the street.
More than 822,000 people have signed a petition demanding that TfL renew the license.