Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Leaves President Trump’s Advisory Council

Feb 02, 2017

After a barrage of criticism over the past week, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has decided to step down from his position on President Donald Trump's advisory council Thursday.

In a note to employees obtained by the New York Times, Kalanick told employees that he had spoke with Trump Thursday about executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. In the same conversation, Kalanick also told Trump he would leave the advisory 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," Kalanick said.

The email came after Kalanick failed to assuage public outrage over Uber's decision to turn off surge pricing at JFK International Airport at a time when taxis refused to stop there in solidarity with a protest against the order. Critics quickly called out the company, saying Uber was effectively undermining the protest. Users began to delete the ride-hailing app, allowing Lyft to beat Uber for the first time in app store downloads.

Kalanick later published a letter to employees saying he opposed the ban — though it didn't ease the anger. Members of the Independent Drivers Guild later called for Kalanick to resign from Trump's advisory council.

Kalanick isn't the only member of the advisory council who has spoken out against the immigration ban. Tesla CEO Elon Musk called the ban "not the best way to address the country's challenges" on Sunday.

Here's Kalanick's email to employees in full:

Dear Team,

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

Fortune has also reached out to the Trump administration, and will update this story should we hear back.

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