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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi apologises for ‘mistakes’

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Dara Khosrowshahi

Uber Technologies’ potential ban in London is giving new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi an early opportunity to demonstrate a more humble approach to conflict than co-founder Travis Kalanick.

Responding to last week’s decision by London authorities to revoke its licence, Khosrowshahi acknowledged the company played fast and loose with the rules in its race to upend the global transportation industry.

“I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made,” he said in an open letter published on Monday. Khosrowshahi added: “You have my commitment that we will work with London to make things right and keep this great city moving safely.”

But even as Khosrowshahi was striking a conciliatory note, the company was also pursuing a more political strategy keeping with the rulebook Kalanick’s honed during years of battles with cities around the world.

Uber said it will appeal the regulator’s decision, threatened to take the city to court, and started an online petition that now has more than 750 000 signatures. The first result of a Google search for “Uber London” is an ad linking to the petition.

Even so, London mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed Monday’s comments from Uber’s new CEO. “Obviously I am pleased that he has acknowledged the issues that Uber faces in London,” Khan said in a statement. “Even though there is a legal process in place, I have asked TfL to make themselves available to meet with him.”

Transportation for London is the regulator that governs the city’s subway, buses and taxis.

Greyball

Uber has disputed the findings of regulators, but said over the weekend it’s open to making concessions. The city criticised the company over its failure to conduct background checks on drivers, report crimes, and for a programme called “Greyball” used to avoid regulators.

“We won’t be perfect, but we will listen to you; we will look to be long-term partners with the cities we service; and we will run our business with humility, integrity and passion,” said Khosrowshahi.

Although it’s just a statement aimed at winning over those in London, Khosrowshahi is giving a glimpse of the softer touch he may use handling the long list of troubles he inherited at Uber.  — Reported by Adam Satariano, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP

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