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Uber’s head of Northern Europe quit as the company fights a ban in London

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Uber’s long-time regional general manager for Northern Europe Jo Bertram is leaving after more than four years, Recode has confirmed. Bertram, who was originally Uber’s general manager for London, oversaw the U.K. and other countries.

Her departure comes at a difficult time, as the ride-hail company faces a potential ban in London, one of its most important cities. Last month, London’s transport agency Transport for London announced that it was not renewing Uber’s license to operate in the city. Uber has appealed the decision and will continue to operate during the appeals process.

Bertram’s decision to leave was in the works for a month, according to an Uber spokesperson. In an email to staff, Bertram wrote that she was pursuing an exciting new opportunity — but that she also thought it was time for a new face for the company.

“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,” Bertram wrote. “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.”

Tom Elvidge, the general manager of Uber London, will be taking over as acting U.K. general manager while the company searches for a replacement for Bertram.

“While I would like to have announced my move in smoother circumstances, I’m proud of the team we’ve built here and am very confident in their abilities to lead the business into the next chapter,” she wrote. “I’ll work with you in the coming weeks on the best possible transition.”

Uber is generally in the midst of a transitional period with new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi taking the reigns last month. Khosrowshahi is expected to meet with the TfL tomorrow to discuss the ban and some of the accusations the agency has levied against the ride-hail company.

In an email to staffers in the days after TfL announced the ban on Uber, Khosrowshahi wrote that while the company may not have done anything wrong in this situation, it needed to be a better partner to cities going forward — and that “there is a high cost” to Uber’s “bad reputation.”

London is a significant market for Uber: The company says there are 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million riders on its platform in London. And like New York City, it is one of the most regulated markets where Uber operates. Unlike most markets across the U.S., Uber drivers in London and New York City are required to participate in government-administered background checks.

But the TfL said that the company acted with a “lack of corporate responsibility” when it came to things like a software tool called Greyball, which Uber created and has used in other markets to circumvent local authorities.

Here’s the full memo from Bertram to staff:

Subject Line: Thank you for a brilliant journey

As many of you have just heard at our All Hands meeting, I’ve decided to move on to something new and exciting. I’m leaving Uber with great memories, friendships and many amazing experiences, and I’ll never forget the great things that we’ve achieved together as a team.When I showed up on my first day four years ago, at our tiny serviced office in Baker Street, I quickly realised that this company was special – not only in its ambitions, but also in the way we all pulled together. Whether responding to all sorts of customer questions, buying our own laptops, or distributing mobile phones to our early partner drivers, we all had to roll up our sleeves and figure out how to build a business. I had wanted to experience the pace and craziness of life at a start-up, and Uber certainly delivered!I’m tremendously lucky to have spent the last four years with you, and it has been breathtaking to see the team grow so quickly. When I joined as General Manager for London, we had just three team members in the city and a few hundred drivers. Together, we then rolled out our services to more than 40 towns and cities across the United Kingdom, where we now serve almost 5 million riders and more than 50,000 drivers. 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.

While we often talk about the growth we’ve seen, we can also be proud of the progress our team has made in improving the service for both drivers and riders. Though there’s always more to be done, we’ve taken big strides for a young company. From the introduction of discounted illness and injury cover for drivers, to the roll out of ACCESS for wheelchair users and most recently our Clean Air Plan, there are many initiatives we can be proud of. I know there are many more exciting things to come.

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 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.

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.While I would like to have announced my move in smoother circumstances, I’m proud of the team we’ve built here and am very confident in their abilities to lead the business into the next chapter. I’ll work with you in the coming weeks on the best possible transition.I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned in the last four years. This company and its people will always have a very special place in my heart.

Jo

Reply from Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Head of EMEA

As I just told everyone at the All Hands meeting, we’re all really sad to be losing such a remarkable colleague and friend.

Jo is certainly one the most impressive people I’ve had the pleasure to work with and the success of our business in Northern Europe is in large part down to her leadership. The passion, energy and commitment she puts into her work has made her an inspiring role model and a fantastic leader since she joined Uber four years ago.

Jo will remain with us over the next few weeks in order to help with a smooth transition, and I look forward to working closely with the excellent team she leaves behind.

Tom Elvidge will now report into me and be our acting UK GM while we undergo an internal and external hiring process for that role. Niek Van Leeuwen, GM for the Nordics, Baltics & Benelux, will report into me.

On behalf of everyone at Uber, I wish Jo all the best for her exciting new role and the next stage of her career.

Thanks so much for your contribution over the years, Jo!

Pierre


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