Uber CEO Steps Down From White House Advisory Board After Backlash Over Immigration

Travis Kalanick cites 'issues' with executive order

Travis Kalanick, Uber's CEO, has launched an investigation into Susan Fowler's allegations. - Credit by Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

Uber’s CEO is reportedly stepping down from President Trump’s economic advisory council.

Travis Kalanick has stepped down from the president’s board of executives less than a week after Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants, refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

A spokesperson for Uber confirmed to Adweek that Kalanick removed himself from the board earlier today, and in a letter to Uber employees obtained this afternoon by The New York Times, Kalanick said he spoke with Trump about the “issues for our community” that the immigration ban creates.

“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,” according to the letter.

Airports around the U.S. on Saturday became the scenes of protests as hundreds and in some places thousands of people flooded baggage claim areas in support of immigrants and refugees detained by customs agents. However, Uber faced sharp criticism for allegedly trying to profit when taxi drivers in New York went on strike in support of the protests. (Uber had sent messages saying it had turned off its surge pricing as it continued to pick up passengers from John F. Kennedy International Airport.) The criticism resulted in #DeleteUber trending on Twitter.

Indeed, many customers chose to delete Uber’s ride-hailing app in favor of its rival Lyft, which on on Sunday announced it opposed the immigration ban and announced plans to donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union over the next four years to “defend our constitution.” According to data analytics firm 4C Insights, Lyft had 100,000 social media engagements on Saturday night, with 71 percent reflecting positive sentiments. However, Uber had around 42,000 social engagements the same night, only 57 percent of which was positive.

“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,” according to an email Lyft sent to customers on Sunday morning. “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.

Kalanick, who later announced Uber would help fund the salaries of any immigrants who were affected by the immigration, said last Saturday that he would talk to Trump about the immigration ban.

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.
Publish date: February 2, 2017 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/uber-ceo-steps-down-from-white-house-advisory-board-after-backlash-over-immigration/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT