Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent a sobering, self-reflective email to employees today following the London transport authority’s decision not to renew the company’s license. In what is an uncharacteristic move for a company plagued by rampant sexism and regulatory abuse, much of which was a product of the leadership style of former chief exec and founder Travis Kalanick, Khosrowshahi told Uber employees that “there is a high cost to a bad reputation.”
Text of the email was first published on Twitter by Bloomberg reporter Eric Newcomer. An Uber representative confirmed to The Verge the authenticity of the email.
“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,” Khosrowshahi wrote, “especially in a global business like ours, where actions in one part of the world can have serious consequences in another.” It’s clear now that Uber is taking these controversies as teachable moments, and that a ban in a city as large and instrumental to its business as London could push it to improve its systemic issues.
Those issues include Uber’s use of Greyball, custom software which allowed the company to dodge law enforcement and regulatory officials from using the full app for potential sting operations. 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.”
“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.”