Monday 23 September 2019

Uber's UK boss quits taxi hailing app as firm battles to keep London license

Jo Bertram Credit: Jeff Moore/Uber/PA Wire
Jo Bertram Credit: Jeff Moore/Uber/PA Wire
Uber Photo: Reuters

Costas Pitas

Uber's northern Europe chief has quit her post for a "new and exciting" role elsewhere, as the company is locked in a licensing battle with Transport for London.

Jo Bertram announced on Monday that she will be leaving the taxi app after four years with the company.

She said in a statement: "Since I became regional general manager for northern Europe, I've been proud to lead what is now a team of 300 people across 10 countries.

"I've learned a lot during this rapid expansion and, in every market we entered, you could quickly see the impact we had on the way people travelled and lived their lives."

She added: "Over the course of this year, I've been reflecting on these incredible last four years and what might come next for me.

"I've also discussed this with Pierre (Gore-Coty, Uber's Europe, Middle East and Africa chief) and I'm proud that we've built this business into more than we ever thought possible.

"And I've realised that taking a nascent company and helping it scale into a major international operation is what I've enjoyed most.

"An exciting new opportunity has arisen that will allow me to apply what I've learnt here and I'll be able to share more details with you soon."

A spokesman for the company denied the move was driven by Uber's current licensing issues, but Ms Bertram said: "Given some of our current challenges, I'm also convinced that now is the right time to have a change of face, and to hand over to someone who will be here for the long haul and take us into the next phase."

A Companies House filing showed that Ms Bertram resigned her post on August 30, three weeks before the surprise decision by TfL not to renew its private hire licence.

The news comes the day before Uber's chief executive is due to visit the capital for a meeting with the transport commissioner to discuss the company's future in London.

Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of the taxi app, will meet Mike Brown of Transport for London (TfL) as Uber seeks to continue operating in the city.

Mr Khosrowshahi vowed to "make things right" with London after the decision not to renew its licence over "public safety and security implications".

Issues flagged by TfL include Uber's approach to reporting serious criminal offences, how drivers' medical certificates are obtained and how criminal record checks are carried out.

It also criticised the company for its use of technology which allegedly helps it to evade law enforcement officials.

Uber has said it will launch an appeal against the decision. It can continue to operate during that process.

Mr Khosrowshahi took over at Uber last month after predecessor Travis Kalanick resigned following a series of scandals.

In an open letter published after TfL's decision he apologised for "the mistakes we've made" and accepted that the company had "got things wrong".

Uber enables users to book cars using their smartphones and is available in more than 40 towns and cities across the UK.

Some 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers use the app in London.

A spokesman for Uber said: "We're proud to have brought more choice and competition to this industry.

"With Uber, licensed drivers can choose if, when and where they drive and are totally free to work with other operators in London too."


Also in Business