Uber CEO quits Trump advisory panel over immigration order

By Stephen Feller

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The chief executive of Uber resigned from one of President Donald Trump's advisory boards Thursday following a week of being raked over the coals by customers and the media.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick dropped off Trump's business advisory council Thursday, a turnaround from his insistence earlier in the week that being on the council was to have a voice in the administration's development of policy.


"Earlier today, I spoke briefly with the president about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community," Kalanick wrote in the memo. "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."

Aside from Uber, the council includes 18 executives from other large U.S. companies, including GE, Citigroup, General Motors, Tesla and Disney. The council's first meeting is scheduled for Friday, and they are expected to meet periodically to offer Trump guidance on economic and business issues.


The ride-sharing company caught heat last weekend after Trump issued an executive order temporarily barring travel from seven majority Muslim countries and halting the acceptance of nearly all refugees for at least 120 days. Cab drivers at New York's JFK International Airport staged a one-hour strike Saturday in support of protests against the order there and around the country.

Uber dropped surge pricing in New York after the drivers struck, causing many to think the company was taking advantage of the situation, and supported the ban. The hashtag #DeleteUber trended online all weekend, losing more than 200,000 customers, and protesters showed up outside the company's offices.

Kalanick had defended the decision to stay on the advisory council as having a voice at the table but wrote in the memo that he changed his mind about participating because the travel ban, and other policies, do not line up with Uber's corporate values and he does not want to fuel the perception they do.

"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," Kalanick wrote in the memo. "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."


Tesla CEO Elon Musk also has been criticized for participating in the council but declined to quit, promising to object to the immigration executive order, saying that attempting to participate in decision-making is the more beneficial decision.

"I understand the perspective of those who object to my attending this meeting," Musk tweeted Thursday, "but I believe at this time that engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good."

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