Uber CEO Quits President Trump’s Economic Council After Criticism

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Feb 2, 2017
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Travis Kalanick, the Uber CEO, is leaving President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council. The move appears to be in response to the #deleteUber campaign that started over the last weekend after President’s immigration order. In his letter to employees (obtained by Recode), Kalanick said some people had taken his joining the council as an endorsement of the President or his agenda.

Uber CEO: “Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda”

Earlier in December, Kalanick and Tesla founder Elon Musk had joined President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. An official statement announcing the committee had said the forum is “designed to provide direct input to the President… in a frank, non-bureaucratic, and non-partisan manner.”

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Kalanick had faced criticism from Uber employees, Silicon Valley executives, and his customers for saying he would continue to engage with President Trump after White House’s recent travel ban.

Many criticized Kalanick over his tepid response to the travel ban and also alleged that Uber tried to break a taxi worker strike during the protest at the JFK airport by turning off surge pricing. Uber CEO has apparently realized that joining President Trump isn’t going to favor him – not yet, at least. Reports suggest that Disney CEO Bob Iger is also leaving the council.

Here’s the letter Kalanick sent to his employees:

Dear Team,

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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.

Travis

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