I can remember when Uber first hit the London scene. It was a pandemic of PR with everyone everywhere talking about it and recommending it.
It became a way of being and talking. After a boozy dinner you could just get an 'uber'. And it had an effect. Black Cab drivers finally modernised with 'HIre' apps and credit card touch pads in their cars. They had to when they saw customer loyalty to the traditional black cab vanish like a puff of smoke as air-conditioned Mercs with complementary bottles of water appeared at a fraction of the price.
Now TFL have said it is to be no more. They have withdrawn the operators licence for London.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? If, as TFL says there is a potential public safety and security issue then it must be in our interests. Uber have been beset with reputation issues around the bullying and inappropriate behaviour of its co-founder Travis Kalanick who has been replaced by Expedia's Dara Khosowshahi. TFL have been firm in their condemnation of Uber's 'lack of corporate responsibility' although not specific about where the lack was. Something is clearly amiss and that uncertainty will hit customer loyalty.
The FT argues that Uber is in the poo having made substantial losses of $3.3bn on a turnover pf $9bn and valued at $68bn last year. Drivers tend to flee when expensive subsidies are withdrawn which creates supply issues. Such losses are unsustainable creating more uncertainty.
I guess it is a sharp reminder that whilst technology can do a lot of things without the passion and commitment to standards, reputation and people, businesses can still come tumbling down.
“TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence,” the regulator said. “TfL considers 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.”