Uber has been stripped of its London licence in a surprise move that dealt a serious blow to one of Silicon Valley’s fastest rising companies and sparked an outcry from a coalition of customers, government ministers and drivers at the ride-hailing company.
The firm’s application for a new licence in London was rejected by Transport for London on the basis that the company is not a “fit and proper” private car hire operator.
Uber’s cars will not disappear immediately as its current licence expires on 30 September and it plans to challenge the ruling by London’s transport authority in the courts immediately. The firm can continue to operate in the capital – where it has 3.5 million users – until it has exhausted the appeals process, which could take months..
Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, wrote to staff on Friday confirming that the company would appeal against the ruling. He said he disagreed with the decision but it was based on past behaviour.
“The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation,” he wrote. “It really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours.
“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 behaviour. 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.”
Khosrowshahi, who was brought in to run the firm after a series of scandals, also tweeted an appeal to Londoners to “work with us” in solving the issue.