It didn’t take long for Dara Khosrowshahi to face his first big leadership test as Uber’s new CEO.
Less than one month after he left his CEO role at Expedia to join the ride-hailing giant, Khosrowshahi is now dealing with a crisis in London, where the city’s transportation authority said Friday it won’t renew Uber’s license to operate because the service is not “fit and proper.”
Khosrowshahi wrote an open letter that published Monday morning, noting that, “on behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made.”
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) September 25, 2017
While it isn’t clear what exactly Uber is apologizing for, the tone of the letter is a “stark change” from the company’s traditional aggressive attitude under the leadership of former CEO Travis Kalanick, The New York Times noted.
On Friday, Khosrowshahi asked London to “please work with us to make things right.” He also told employees in an internal email that “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.”
Dear London: we r far from perfect but we have 40k licensed drivers and 3.5mm Londoners depending on us. Pls work w/us to make things right
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) September 22, 2017
internal email from Dara to employees, re: London, below pic.twitter.com/e4Py7LwCQO
— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) September 22, 2017
Transport for London, which regulates private car services in the city, said that Uber demonstrated a “lack of corporate responsibility” related to various actions like the company’s apparent use of a controversial software program called “Greyball” and allegations of sexual assault of passengers.
Transport for London has the mayor’s support.
— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) September 22, 2017
Uber said on Saturday that it plans to challenge this in court. Uber’s petition to “save your Uber in London” has more than 765,000 signatures.
We intend to challenge this in the courts to defend the livelihoods of drivers & the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use Uber.
— Uber (@Uber) September 24, 2017
This certainly isn’t the first time that Uber has battled city transportation regulators. But it’s a big deal, given that London represents the company’s largest European market. What ends up happening in London is also important because it could potentially encourage other cities to react similarly.
Khosrowshahi, who spent 12 years leading Bellevue, Wash.-based online travel giant Expedia, was the surprising choice to take control of Uber on Aug. 27. By Aug. 29, he was emailing his soon-to-be-former employees to tell them it was one of the toughest decisions of his life.
An Aug. 30 opinion piece in The Times spelled out what Khosrowshahi must do to save Uber, saying that the company’s troubles run deeper than Kalanick’s “flubs and scandals” and that the new CEO will have to “confront the reality that Uber’s business model simply doesn’t work.”
Expedia appointed longtime Expedia executive Mark Okerstrom as its new CEO to replace Khosrowshahi.
Here’s Khosrowshahi’s letter in full:
We want to thank everyone who uses Uber for your support over the last few days. It’s been amazing to hear your stories of Uber improving lives across the city – from drivers who use our app to earn a living, to riders who rely on us to get home safely after a night out.
While Uber has revolutionised the way people move in cities around the world, it’s equally true that we’ve got things wrong along the way. On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made.
We will appeal the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change. As Uber’s new CEO it’s my job to help Uber write its next chapter.
We won’t be perfect but we will listen to you; we will look to be long-term partners with the cities we serve; and we will run our business with humility, integrity and passion.
Here in London we’ve already started doing more to contribute to the city. Wheelchair accessible vehicles are on the road and our Clean Air Plan will help tackle pollution.
You have my commitment that we will work with London to make things right and keep this great global city moving safely.”