Uber Tries a New Route to Keep On Going in London: Diplomacy

Despite the conciliatory words, Uber isn’t lying down entirely. It is appealing the ruling, a move that will allow it to keep operating after its license formally expires at the end of this week. It is still fighting in court over the status of its drivers and their lack of benefits. In a show of force, it mobilized its considerable user base — Uber says it has 3.5 million riders and 40,000 drivers in London — with a Change.org petition, “Save Your Uber in London.” As of this week the petition had been signed by more than 800,000 people.

Uber and Mr. Khosrowshahi declined to comment.

And as anxieties mount in London over the British withdrawal from the European Union, even Mr. Khosrowshahi’s reference to the city as a “great global city” was a not-so-subtle reminder that, without Uber, it wouldn’t be.

It’s unclear how much of the change at the top of Uber has filtered down to the rank and file. Mr. Khan pointedly contrasted Mr. Khosrowshahi’s approach to that of officials in Uber’s London operation, whom he described as arrogant. “I just wish Uber U.K. had acted in a similar manner in the recent past,” Mr. Khan told The Evening Standard. “This arrogance where big companies that have lots of customers don’t have to play by the rules is one that I think is wrong.”

Sam Knight, a journalist based in London whose 2016 article in The Guardian, “How Uber Conquered London,” explored the charged political and social landscape of transportation in the British capital, told me this week that the old Uber was on display when he did his interviews at the company’s headquarters in London’s financial district, known as the City.

“London Uber is basically staffed by white people from Goldman Sachs in their 30s,” he said. “They’re slick City people executing a business plan that originated in San Francisco. They totally drank the Travis Kool-Aid. They…

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