An Uber motorcycle taxi driver waits for customers next to a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia. Source: Reuters

Loss of India policy chief another blow to Uber

UBER’S time in India and South Asia just got a bit rockier not just because of stiff local competition, but also because the company’s chief of policy for the region just resigned, marking the latest top-level departure.

The global ride-hailing company saw the departure of former journalist Shweta Rajpal Kohli, who joined Uber last year and who will depart the company for a role at Inc., a cloud-based software maker. Her departure follows the loss of the company’s European chief policy officer, and Britain’s head honcho who left when the company was booted out from those borders.

According to Reuters, sources said that Kohli was “leading government engagements in the influential circles”, thus making her loss especially important for Uber. Kohli’s position at Uber mainly revolved around engaging with government authorities and regulators in India, and building trust between them and Uber in order to better cultivate a close relationship.

This role is especially crucial in India which is considered to be Uber’s second largest market, but also one where the company has been repeatedly hit with regulations and scandal. In 2014, the service was banned in New Delhi following the rape of a female passenger by a driver. The service has since been reinstated, but the company continues to struggle with cultivating a positive reputation in the nation.

Uber has experienced a rocky few months since the ousting of former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick by Uber board members. The company has then selected a new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, who has been tasked with rehabilitating the company’s image.

India remains a crucial market for Uber: the service operates out of 30 Indian cities, and is in a neck-and-neck battle with domestic ride-hailing service, Ola, which has the backing of Japanese superfund, Softbank.

Softbank and Dragoneer Investment Group both lead on a potential investment in Uber, the company announced on Monday.