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Uber's Khosrowshahi proving to be a kinder, gentler CEO

Facing a ban in London, the ride-hailing company's new leader says it's time for "self-reflection."

Uber Loses Its Private Hire Licence In London
Transportation regulators refused to renew Uber's operating license in London.
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi appears to be doing things a bit differently than his predecessor, Travis Kalanick.

London transportation regulators on Friday refused to renew Uber's operating license because of the company's "lack of corporate responsibility." This means the ride-hailing service's license will now expire on Sept. 30. Rather than Uber's typical MO of coming out swinging, Khosrowshahi was conciliatory.

"While the impulse may be to say that this is unfair, one of the lessons I've learned over time is that change comes from self-reflection," Khosrowshahi wrote in an email to staff, according to Recode. "So it's worth examining how we got here. The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation."

The company, founded in 2009, managed to upend the taxi industry and become the world's most valuable startup, with a valuation of $68 billion. Uber quickly became one of the biggest ride-hailing services on the planet, with its no-apologies attitude and notoriously aggressive co-founder and CEO, Kalanick. While this approach helped the company grow, it called into question its long-term sustainability.

Khosrowshahi came on board last month after Uber experienced a spectacular fall from grace. It'd been beleaguered by dozens of scandals, including a #DeleteUber movement, workplace sexual harassment allegations and an internal investigation led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder. In June, Uber's board of directors forced Kalanick to resign.

Transport for London, or TfL, said on Friday that the reason it didn't renew Uber's license is because the company "is not fit and proper" to hold one. It added that Uber'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."

While Uber's culture is still rooted in being pushy, especially to regulators, Khosrowshahi is clearly trying to turn this London situation into an example.

"It really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours, where actions in one part of the world can have serious consequences in another," Khosrowshahi wrote in the staff email on Friday.

Uber now has 21 days to appeal the regulators' decision and can continue to operate throughout the appeals process. Khosrowshahi said Uber will appeal.

"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 wrote in his email. "That doesn't mean abandoning our principles -- we will vigorously appeal TfL's decision -- but rather building trust through our actions and our behavior."

Uber didn't respond to request for comment.

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