Uber Poached Itself an NYC Taxi Official

Ashwini Chhabra, Deputy Commissioner, Policy & Planning of NY TLC speaks onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 at The Manhattan Center on May 1, 2013 in New York City.
Ashwini Chhabra at TechCrunch, 2013. Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images

How better to disrupt the local cab industry to death than by hiring away its leadership? Ashwini Chhabra, the deputy commissioner for policy and planning at the Taxi and Limousine Commission, is leaving for a similar job at e-hailing app Uber, where he’ll be the first-ever head of policy development and community engagement. While the two sides were once bitter enemies, the TLC recently extended a pilot program approving the use of Uber and similar apps in taxis. It’s happening.

Chhabra was always open to the ways of the future. In 2012, he said, “It is not the rightful function of government to protect one segment of an industry from competition from another segment. So long as passengers win and the industry overall wins, our goal to be to encourage innovation and forward movement.”

And in the Times today, Chhabra is quoted sounding like a full Uber convert. (One of the city’s most powerful taxi fleet owners is already demanding an investigation into the hiring.) “I won’t say that at New York T.L.C., we always got it right,” he said. “Regulators often move slower than entrepreneurs.” They probably pay less, too. As noted by Valleywag, Chhabra is not the first veteran of the Bloomberg administration, where he also served as a senior policy adviser, to make the jump to Uber. At this rate, he won’t be the last, either.

Uber Poached Itself an NYC Taxi Official