The tech industry responded with shock and offers to help.
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group: This sets a dangerous precedent.
Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix: Ban "Un-American"
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook: Let’s focus on real threats
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple: Workers have our support
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter: “Economic impact is real”
Brian Chesky, Founder, Airbnb: Help for those stranded
Travis Kalanik, Founder, Uber: This order affects thousands
Logan Green, CEO, Lyft: “We will not be silent.”
Elon Musk, Founder, Tesla and SpaceX: I'll talk to Trump
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks: “We will neither stand by, or be silent.”
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon: We shouldn't weaken what makes the U.S. strong.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google: We will voice our beliefs.
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs: “This is not a policy we support.”
Bill Ford Jr., Ford's executive chairman, and Mark Fields, Ford's CEO: This is not in line with our values.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft: Immigration has a positive impact on business and the world.
Aaron Levie, CEO of Box: “This executive order takes our country in the wrong direction.”
Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce: Don’t forget who we are.
Drew Houston, founder and CEO of Dropbox: This is un-American.
Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy: “We are a nation of immigrants.”
Chris Sacca, venture capital investor: The order is “destructive, inhumane and betray our nation’s proud history.”
Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator: “This is a breach of America's contract with all the immigrants in the nation.”
Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten: “Now I am really crying.”
The Entertainment Software Association: The government should proceed with caution.
Chris Beard, CEO of Mozilla Corporation: This hurts global health, safety and potential for innovation.
Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and CEO of Slack: This will not strengthen us.
Micha Kaufman, co-founder and CEO of Fiverr: “Today I'm not proud.”
Bastian Lehmann, co-founder and CEO of Postmates: “I no longer believe it to be reasonable to remain silent.”
Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn: Everyone should have access to opportunity.
Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via: We pledge to “speak out in defense of our values.”
Diane Gherson, IBM's senior vice president of human resources: Concern for employees and families.
Mark Parker, CEO of Nike: “Nike stands together against bigotry.”
Mark Cuban, Investor, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Landmark Theatres: This will not alleviate fears
Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola Co.: We are committed to inclusion.
James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox CEO, and Lachlan Murdoch, 21st Century Fox non-executive chairman: We value diversity.
More than 400 New York tech leaders: All immigrants are welcome here.
Ted Price, founder and CEO of Insomniac Games: We will always be a nation of immigrants.
Chris O’Neill, CEO of Evernote: “Ideas have no borders.”
Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit: We welcome all citizens of the world.
John Quattrone, SVP of global human resources at General Motors: GM will provide affected employees with support.
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia: This makes us smaller.
Jerry Stritzke, CEO of REI: We will not discriminate.
Josh Reeves, CEO and co-founder of Gusto: “We are creating more problems than solving them.”
Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani: America is a symbol of diversity.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook and founder of Lean In: “This is not how it should be in America.”
Late last Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that temporarily suspended refugee admission to the U.S. and banned citizens from 7 muslim-dominated countries from traveling to the U.S.
The order affects citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least the next 90 days -- and is impacting those with valid visas or permanent residence permits.
Interpretation of the order has evolved since the order's signing. For instance, agencies changed position on whether green card holders from these countries were or weren't covered by the executive order. As of Sunday, the government says it will try to ease this group's entry into the country, provided the traveler has no criminal background or terrorist ties.
Friday’s order also suspended a visa waiver interview program that made it easier for frequent travelers (including tourists and businesspeople) from 38 nations (countries such as Australia, France and Iceland) to come to the United States. With the interview waivers suspended, some in this group will need formal one-on-one interviews at U.S. embassies to renew their authorizations, slowing travel.
Businesses -- including some of tech’s biggest names -- responded to the order with dismay and shock. Some worried that the chaos seen at airports across the country this weekend would find its way to the technology sector, stifling innovation and the flow of ideas as the inconsistently interpreted order made it harder to predict who can enter or leave the United States. Some founders called the ban immoral or un-American while others offered ways to help both refugees and their own workers and families. Still others, some on special advisory boards with the new administration, offered to find ways to fix the situation.
Here are a sampling of their reactions.
In a blog post, Branson expressed his and Virgin Group’s opposition to the ban, praising Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s welcoming of refugees and writing about immigrants such as Albert Einstein and Madeleine Albright who have made a positive, lasting impact on the country and the world.“I applaud the thousands who have taken to the streets and the airwaves in solidarity across the U.S.; the hundreds of lawyers camping out at airports and donating their time to fight the good fight on behalf of those caught up in this mess; the brave federal judges who have shown that checks and balances are still in place. They all stand for a kinder, gentler and more welcoming America -- the America that is admired the world over.”
The top exec at the streaming media company said, "Trump's actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity."
The social media exec said he was concerned about the order’s impact and if it helped more than it hurt. He said, “We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat. Expanding the focus of law enforcement beyond people who are real threats would make all Americans less safe by diverting resources, while millions of undocumented folks who don't pose a threat will live in fear of deportation.”
In a letter to employees, Cook wrote that the order was "not a policy we support." The company acknowledged the many employees who could be impacted by it and promised the company’s assistance. "We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our co-workers and our company."
Here is the full text of the email, first published on Buzzfeed.
In my conversations with officials here in Washington this week, I’ve made it clear that Apple believes deeply in the importance of immigration — both to our company and to our nation’s future. Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.
I’ve heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support.
There are employees at Apple who are directly affected by yesterday’s immigration order. Our HR, Legal and Security teams are in contact with them, and Apple will do everything we can to support them. We’re providing resources on AppleWeb for anyone with questions or concerns about immigration policies. And we have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company.
As I’ve said many times, diversity makes our team stronger. And if there’s one thing I know about the people at Apple, it’s the depth of our empathy and support for one another. It’s as important now as it’s ever been, and it will not weaken one bit. I know I can count on all of you to make sure everyone at Apple feels welcome, respected and valued.
Apple is open. Open to everyone, no matter where they come from, which language they speak, who they love or how they worship. Our employees represent the finest talent in the world, and our team hails from every corner of the globe.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.”
Twitter’s CEO followed the story throughout the weekend on his personal account, saying the ban was "upsetting" and reminding followers that many Syrian immigrants are small business owners.
The Executive Order's humanitarian and economic impact is real and upsetting. We benefit from what refugees and immigrants bring to the U.S. https://t.co/HdwVGzIECt— jack (@jack) January 28, 2017
11% of Syrian immigrants to the U.S. are business owners, more than triple that of U.S.-born business owners https://t.co/cU9UMKcG4r— jack (@jack) January 28, 2017
Twitter offered its own company response
Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always.— Twitter (@Twitter) January 29, 2017
The home rental marketplace founder offered housing to those impacted by the ban.
Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stayed tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) January 29, 2017
Uber’s Travis Kalanick announced compensation for any drivers impacted by the travel bans over the next 90 days and offered to discuss the order's impact with the President this week. (Kalanick is on an during an economic advisory board with business leaders such as GM’s Mary Barra and IBM’s Ginni Rometty.)
Uber also suspended surge pricing to and from New York’s JFK airport on Saturday -- a move that 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 the surge suspension was opportunistic and disloyal to the taxi drivers. The company later apologized for the misunderstanding.
Lyft’s Logan Green condemned the travel ban in an email to its users and pledged a $1 million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union.
3/ We are donating $1,000,000 over the next four years to the ACLU to defend our constitution. https://t.co/0umGOlkhSx— logangreen (@logangreen) January 29, 2017
Here is the full text of the email to users:
We created Lyft to be a model for the type of community we want our world to be: diverse, inclusive and safe.
This weekend, Trump closed the country’s borders to refugees, immigrants, and even documented residents from around the world based on their country of origin. Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values. We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.
We know this directly impacts many of our community members, their families and friends. We stand with you, and are donating $1,000,000 over the next four years to the ACLU to defend our constitution. We ask that you continue to be there for each other – and together, continue proving the power of community.
John & LoganLyft Co-Founders
Musk expressed worry about the order. And as a member of Trump’s newly formed Strategic and Policy forum, Musk crowdsourced suggestions to fix the order on Twitter, offering to bring those suggestions to Trump.
Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They've done right,not wrong & don't deserve to be rejected.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2017
Please read immigration order. Lmk specific amendments. Will seek advisory council consensus & present to President. https://t.co/qLpbsP4lEk— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2017
In an internal memo, Amazon VP of human resources Beth Galetti wrote of the company’s stance, “From the very beginning, Amazon has been committed to equal rights, tolerance and diversity -- and we always will be.” The letter, which was shared with The Verge, laid out that the company’s initial focus was to help its employees understand how the order could impact them.
On Monday, the state of Washington is issuing a lawsuit to fight the executive order in federal court. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that Washington-based Amazon and Expedia will support the legal action.
Jeff Bezos released a personal statement as well, writing “We’re a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years. No nation is better at harnessing the energies and talents of immigrants. It’s a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken.”
Google has started a $2 million crisis fund, and it has pledged that it will match up to $2 million in employee donations to the American Civil Liberties Union. Immigrant Legal Resource Center, International Rescue Committee and UNHCR -- The UN Refugee Agency.
In an internal memo, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who was born in India, wrote: "We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so." Over the weekend, Google co-founder and Alphabet president Sergey Brin participated in the protest held at San Francisco International Airport. Brin came to the United States after fleeing the Soviet Union in 1979.
In a voicemail sent to his employees, Blankfein expressed his opposition to the ban. “The president has issued an executive order that, generally, bans individuals from seven different countries from entering the United States and freezes the broader refugee program. This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily.”
President Trump has selected a number of former Goldman Sachs employees for key positions in his cabinet.
Ford and Fields issued a joint statement against the ban, saying, "We do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company.”
In a post on LinkedIn, Nadella wrote, “As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world. We will continue to advocate on this important topic.”
Nadella included the internal memo sent by Microsoft President Brad Smith, who wrote of the company’s stance on the issue: “We believe that immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion. And we believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings.”
Levie took to Medium to express his opposition to the immigration and travel ban, and to say that Box could not have been built without help from minds all over the world.
“On basically any level -- moral, economic, or logical -- this is the wrong thing to do and is antithetical to America’s principles,” he wrote. “Turning our back on people from countries dealing with major humanitarian crises is against our values, and targeting groups largely based on religion is dangerous and disastrous policy.”
Benioff has tweeted out several calls to end the ban, quoting both scripture and Emma Lazarus, whose words are inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.
When we close our hearts & stop loving other people as ourselves (MK 12:31) we forget who we truly are---a light unto the nations. #noban— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) January 28, 2017
I'm with her---> ????????????????????????????????? pic.twitter.com/247YTCv6ws— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) January 29, 2017
Houston also shared his statement against the ban on Twitter, noting that Dropbox supports and embraces people of every background.
Executive orders affecting world's most vulnerable are un-American. Dropbox embraces people from all countries and faiths— Drew Houston (@drewhouston) January 28, 2017
The Etsy CEO opposed the ban with a statement on Twitter.
We are a nation of immigrants, and are stronger for it. I oppose excluding people from US based on their nationality or religion, period.— Chad Dickerson (@chaddickerson) January 28, 2017
The investor and guest judge on Shark Tank said that he would match up to $75,000 in donations to the ACLU, and donated $150,000. He also called the order “grossly un-American.”
Altman leads Y Combinator, the incubator where companies such as AirBnB, Reddit and Instacart got their start. In a blog post, Altman urged those in the tech community to take a public stance against the actions of the administration.
“The tech community is powerful. Large tech companies in particular have enormous power and are held in high regard. We need to hear from the CEOs clearly and unequivocally. Although there is some business risk in doing so, there is strength in numbers -- if everyone does it early this coming week, we will all make each other stronger.”
Mikitani leads Rakuten, an ecommerce company that has been called Japan’s Amazon. The company also owns Viber, a popular messaging app, and it has launched free calling between the United States and the seven countries that are affected. Mikitani posted several tweets, describing his admiration for the U.S. when he arrived in the country when he was 7 years old.
I am very sad to see what is happening now in the US. I came to US when I was seven and I really respect big American big heart.— ????? H. Mikitani (@hmikitani) January 30, 2017
Beard, who was born in Canada, condemned the ban in a blog post on the Mozilla site, writing, “By slamming the door on talented immigrants -- including those already legally in the United States and those seeking to enter -- the ban will create a barrier to innovation, economic development and global impact. Immigrants bring world class skills and expertise to build advanced technology that can improve the lives of people everywhere. The ban will have an unnecessary negative impact to the health and safety of those affected and their families, not to mention rejecting refugees fleeing persecution, terror and war."
Butterfield also registered his opposition on Twitter.
And the idea that this will somehow strengthen the US? Moral authority is as powerful a means of influence as guns and steel.— Stewart Butterfield (@stewart) January 28, 2017
“I'm usually proud of this beautiful country for being one of the world's most diverse democracies. It's full of people who recognize the value and importance of freedom. Freedom to say what you want, write what you want and pray however you damn well choose,” wrote the Israeli-born Kaufman, who leads a company with a presence in 190 countries.
“Detaining refugees because of the country they're fleeing or the religion they practice doesn't sound like the policy of a free country, and it certainly doesn't benefit the United States. Today I'm not proud, and I urge the White House to undo this mistake.”
In a post on Medium, Lehmann talked about how Postmates was built by immigrants, as he was born in Germany and the company’s first employee was born in Myanmar. In response to the ban, Postmates will be matching employee donations made to the ACLU and the International Refugee Assistance Project.
“In exchange for the guise of safety rooted in fear of those with different religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds we will be abandoning the diverse melting pot of culture and ideas that has made the United States prosper,” wrote Lehmann. “That is the bedrock that creative growing companies like Postmates have been built upon. Ignoring the dynamics of this diversity, which is distinctly American and has set our country apart from the rest the world throughout history is short sighted and damaging.”
Weiner shared a statement on Twitter highlighting the diversity of people and backgrounds behind some of the country’s thriving companies.
And in a post on LinkedIn, the company laid out its plan to partner with the International Rescue Committee to offer training and financial resources to the IRC staff to help newly arrived refugees find jobs.
40% of Fortune 500 founded by immigrants or their children. All ethnicities should have access to opportunity -- founding principle of U.S.— Jeff Weiner (@jeffweiner) January 28, 2017
Cuban has been critical of the ban on Twitter, characterizing the order as harmful to both businesses and private citizens.
2) how many other businesses, large and small are having to deal with disruptions to the lives of employees and their families ?— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 29, 2017
No leader ignores the fears of those who question him/her Obama tried, but failed for many. @potus isn't even trying to alleviate fears— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 28, 2017
More than 400 New York tech and business leaders who belong to the non-profit organization Tech:NYC -- including Indiegogo co-founder and president Slava Rubin, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa, littleBits founder and CEO Ayah Bdeir and Birchbox co-founder and CEO Katia Beauchamp -- signed an open letter to the president opposing the ban.
“In addition to all of the humanitarian reasons to welcome refugees, it is dangerous to discourage immigration when the facts show that immigrant entrepreneurs play a significant role in the American economy. Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as the native-born population. Immigrant entrepreneurs started, in whole or in part, some of the most important technology companies of our time including LinkedIn, Tesla Motors, Zipcar, Google, Intel, Yahoo!, eBay, and WhatsApp,” wrote the business leaders.
“More than half of the companies on the current list of U.S. technology startups valued at $1 billion or more were started by immigrants. We should be doing everything in our power to attract these entrepreneurs to the United States. Yet when we close the door to immigrants from certain countries, not to mention to refugees, we are telling all immigrants that they are not welcome here.”
Price and his team released a video voicing their opposition to the ban. “There’s no question these orders will harm us as a company and many of our team members. So we ask. Is this the American way? Is discriminating based on religious faith or national origin American? Absolutely not. This is a deplorable, discriminatory act that we and many others across the nation believe is patently unconstitutional. We have been, we are, and will always be a nation of immigrants. If you agree with us, please do something about it.”
O’Neill described himself in his Medium post responding to the ban as “a Canadian immigrant to the U.S., leading a company started by a Russian immigrant.” He described the process of renewing his Green Card and studying to become a dual citizen.
He wrote of his and Evernote’s stance on the action: “This order is diametrically opposed to my understanding of what America stands for: freedom, optimism and opportunity. Evernote was founded on the notion of 'remembering everything.' Let us never forget what makes this country a beacon of hope for the world. We can do better, and must stand up to unjust, cruel and likely unconstitutional acts like this executive order.”
In a post on Reddit, Ohanian wrote about his own background as “the son of an undocumented immigrant from Germany and the great grandson of refugees who fled the Armenian Genocide,” and recalled the memory of his German mother’s citizenship ceremony.
“My forebears were brave refugees who found a home in this country. I’ve always been proud to live in a country that said yes to these shell-shocked immigrants from a strange land, that created a path for a woman who wanted only to work hard and start a family here,” wrote Ohanian.
“Without them, there’s no me, and there’s no Reddit. We are Americans. Let’s not forget that we’ve thrived as a nation because we’ve been a beacon for the courageous -- the tired, the poor, the tempest-tossed. … Our platform, like our country, thrives the more people and communities we have within it. Reddit, Inc. will continue to welcome all citizens of the world to our digital community and our office.”
Quattrone’s memo to employees did not say that GM was against the ban, but did emphasize the company’s respect for diversity.
"At General Motors, we value and respect individual differences. We appreciate what each individual brings to the team, including background, education, gender, race, ethnicity, working and thinking styles, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, religious background, age, generation, disability, cultural expertise and technical skill,” wrote Quattrone. “Empowering these unique perspectives keeps GM on the cutting edge of technological innovation in the fast-paced automotive industry.”
GM CEO Mary Barra, who is a part of President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, has not issued a statement about the ban.
The Seattle-based travel company is, with Amazon and Microsoft, supporting the state of Washington’s lawsuit against the federal government. Khosrowshahi, whose family emigrated to the United States from Iran in 1978, sent a memo to his employees.
"I believe that with this executive order, our president has reverted to the short game. The U.S. may be an ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking vs. forward thinking, reactionary vs. visionary,” wrote Khosrowshahi
“We, as a company, however, will continue to play the long game. We will do our part to bring travelers from all over the world together to learn about the other, the new and unknown, the uncomfortable. We will look to hire a talent pool and leadership which is truly balanced and global and inclusive.”
Sandberg spoke out against the ban on Facebook and shared her family history, describing her great-great-grandmother’s journey to the United States from Lithuania in the 1889.
“The Executive Orders issued over the past week defy the heart and values that define the best of our nation. Families have been separated. Frightened children have been detained in airports without their parents. People seeking refuge have been turned away and sent back to the danger they just managed to flee. This is not how it should be in America.”