Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has confirmed that he will no longer take part in President Donald Trump’s business advisory group, following intense public criticism and a growing online boycott of the taxi company.
In an email to staff, obtained by The Guardian, the Uber boss explained his participation in the advisory council had been “misinterpreted” as an endorsement of President Trump and his controversial policies.
“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”, Kalanick said. “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.”
The company has faced an online boycott campaign following President Trump’s executive order banning refugees and travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries. As protests broke out in airports across the US on January 28, Uber appeared to defy a New York City cab driver strike by lowering its prices during the scheduled work stoppage hours. This non-participation in the strike saw users take to Twitter to share the hashtag #DeleteUber, which soon saw over 200,000 customers remove the app from their phones.
On January 29, as the viral campaign attracted increasing numbers of supporters across various social media platforms, Kalanick strengthened his criticism of Trump’s executive orders, announcing the creation of a $3m legal fund to help immigrant drivers affected by the ban. Despite this pledge, Kalanick’s participation in Trump’s economic advisory council continued to provoke the ire of Uber workers and users alike, leading the CEO to ultimately step down from the panel on February 2.
Uber appeared to defy a New York cab strike by lowering its prices during the scheduled work stoppage hours
The business advisory council is due to meet with President Trump for the first time on February 3. The board is to be led by Steve Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, and includes representatives from General Motors, Walt Disney Company and IBM, along with tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.
In a statement released prior to the scheduled advisory council meeting, Musk explained that while he strongly objects to President Trump’s immigration ruling, he would still be attending the forum on February 3.
“Advisory councils simply provide advice and attending does not simply mean that I agree with the actions by the administration”, Musk said. “I understand the perspective of those who object to my attending this meeting, but I believe at this time that engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good.”