I wanted to follow up on my note from Monday to respond to some of the feedback we’ve received, to clarify some areas where there have been some questions and concerns – and to personally apologise if any of my comments came across as anything but sincere and genuine.
Understandably, there have been some strong opinions expressed about my message, though I’m sure all drivers would agree that personal abuse aimed at Hailo’s founder taxi drivers, or any Hailo drivers, is never the right thing to do. Just as importantly in this instance, it’s simply not right – Terry, Russ and Gary don’t sit in a room on their own making every decision. Hailo is now a sizeable company with a large management team and over 200 employees worldwide.
No-one at Hailo believed our decision to expand our customer offering into PH would be anything less than controversial and difficult. We know when we started three years ago that we said that Hailo would be Black Cab only. Unfortunately, the market reality is that things are changing rapidly and we sincerely believe that we have to change with them. It was never our plan but it has become a necessity.
Hailo For Business – Although it was not our ambition to build our business on the back of large corporate accounts, the reality is that the longer jobs and off peak work are heavily supplied by these types of customers. It has become clear that to win and service this work, we must have a service offering which runs beyond just black taxis and includes executive cars and a host of new product features. We have already signed up hundreds of accounts for Hailo for Business in London, and have ongoing discussions with other large potential clients.
UBER – In November, Uber began to aggressively expand UberX in London. You may have seen many more unmarked Toyotas, BMWs and even Mercedes around town lately using Uber’s hailing app to directly compete with street hail work traditionally reserved for London’s black cabs. What is happening to taxis around the world, is now happening in London. Hailing App technology can allow anyone to go after street hails.
LYFT – Lyft is unknown, at the moment, in Europe. It is a US car service which allows any unlicensed member of the public to download an app and apply to pick up fares. This may not have seemed relevant in London six months ago, but Lyft has just raised $250m to expand in Europe. Neither Uber’s or Lyft’s business models may appear legal but regulators in London are not even barking, never mind biting.
I appreciate that it is easy to talk the talk versus walk the walk and you must judge us on our actions. But I would ask all of our drivers to consider whether Hailo has helped you to earn more money over the last three years and to please judge our current decision on whether we continue to help you to earn more money in the future. Ultimately the intent behind any promise that we have made, or will make in the future, is always to put black cab drivers first and to help them earn more each day when they go on shift. The decisions that we are now considering are designed to help you earn more money not less and to make sure that ever more people use the Hailo App and so get to choose a taxi, rather than losing customers to alternative services.
Over the last three years we would never claim to be perfect, we have certainly made mistakes, but I hope you can give us some credit for helping you earn more and keeping the London black cab competitive and relevant. I apologise that the information causing this controversy was not given to you directly by Hailo but the leak was beyond our control and we still do not have a license. In the future, we will try to be as transparent as possible about our plans without putting at risk Hailo’s ongoing competitive position.
I would welcome Hailo drivers’ views and promise to read all of them personally, so please use this form to share your thoughts.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Ron Zeghibe, Co-Founder and Chairman