Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says he has stepped down from US president Donald Trump’s economic council.
“Earlier today I spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community,” Kalanick wrote in an email to Uber employees this afternoon. “I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”
Kalanick joined Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum on Dec. 14. Other participating CEOs include Tesla’s Elon Musk, Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi, General Motors’ Mary Barra, and Disney’s Bob Iger. Kalanick is the only one so far to step down. (Musk, reached by tech site Gizmodo, implied that he plans to remain on the council for now.)
Kalanick’s decision to join the council attracted little notice from Uber users in December, but resurfaced this weekend as protests against the Trump administration intensified around the nation. Uber became a leading target of liberal outrage after a Twitter user accused the company of attempting to break up a taxi workers’ strike at New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport on Jan. 28, also noting Kalanick’s participating in Trump’s business advisory council. The tweet took on a life of its own, and #deleteUber was soon trending on Twitter.
Attempting to do damage control, Kalanick condemned Trump’s immigration ban as “wrong and unjust” in a post on Facebook. He also announced a $3 million legal dense fund to help Uber’s thousands of affected drivers.
By then it was too late. Uber declined to comment on how many users have deleted their accounts, but the volume was significant enough that the company reportedly had to scrape together an automated process to manage the requests. (Until this week, Uber had reportedly handled account deletions manually.) Users attempting to delete their accounts also received an email from the company stating that “Uber shares your views on the immigration ban: it’s unjust, wrong and against everything we stand for as a company.”
We’ve included Kalanick’s full memo to staff below.
Earlier today I spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community. I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this and mapping it to our values. There are a couple that are particularly relevant:
Inside Out—The implicit assumption that Uber (or I) was somehow endorsing the Administration’s agenda has created a perception-reality gap between who people think we are, and who we actually are.
Just Change—We must believe that the actions we take ultimately move the ball forward. There are many ways we will continue to advocate for just change on immigration but staying on the council was going to get in the way of that. The executive order is hurting many people in communities all across America. Families are being separated, people are stranded overseas and there’s a growing fear the U.S. is no longer a place that welcomes immigrants.
Immigration and openness to refugees is an important part of our country’s success and quite honestly to Uber’s. I am incredibly proud to work directly with people like Thuan and Emil, both of whom were refugees who came here to build a better life for themselves. I know it has been a tough week for many of you and your families, as well as many thousands of drivers whose stories are heartfelt and heart-wrenching.
Please know, your questions and stories on Tuesday, along with what I heard from drivers, have kept me resilient and reminded me of one of our most essential cultural values, Be Yourself. We will fight for the rights of immigrants in our communities so that each of us can be who we are with optimism and hope for the future.