Today, Uber founder Travis Kalanick announced his resignation from Donald Trump’s Strategic & Policy Forum. He was one of several high-profile names chosen for the 16-member group, including Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, and Elon Musk.
Both Musk and Kalanick have received criticism for their participation in the forum. However, backlash against Uber reached a fever pitch this weekend after the signing of an executive order impacting immigrants and refugees.
The order created confusion at airports across the country. Uber's suspension of surge pricing to and from New York’s JFK’s airport on Saturday was met with mixed results since it coincided with a protest that swarmed the airport and a strike from the NY Taxi Workers Alliance. Some felt that the surge suspension was opportunistic and disloyal to the taxi drivers. The company later apologized for the misunderstanding, but the public relations damage had been done.
In stark contrast, rival Lyft responded to the ban by donating $1 million the the American Civil Liberties Union over the next four years. The hashtag #DeleteUber quickly spread on social media and Lyft downloads surpassed Uber for possibly the first time ever on Sunday.
This morning, Kalanick spoke to the President about his need to step down from the council, according to the New York Times.
Here is the full memo I received 30 minutes ago. pic.twitter.com/ctfhThqfhb— ?_? (@MikeIsaac) February 2, 2017
The full text of his emailed memo to his staff is below (the memo was first obtained by New York Times reporter Mike Isaac.)
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.