Uber CEO Quits Trump Advisory Panel After 200K Delete App

Responding to public and internal pressure, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick yesterday resigned from President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council. In an email to employees, he said that 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.”

“Many Uber customers were outraged when Uber lowered its prices while taxi drivers were on strike at New York City's JFK airport over Trump’s” executive order banning immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries last week,” NPR’s Laura Sydell reports. “The price drop was perceived as a move to take advantage of the strike and draw business away from the taxis. Uber denies this was the case. But, it helped fuel a Dump Uber campaign.”



“#DeleteUber encouraged people to delete the Uber app and their accounts with the company. According to people familiar with the matter, more than 200,000 Uber customers deleted their accounts this week — making a large statement, although not a crippling blow to the company's bottom line,” reports Brian Solomon for Forbes.

Users who go to delete their accounts get a return email with a link to complete the process, reports Brett Molina for USA Today. Below the link is “a statement pointing users to an email sent to Uber drivers from CEO Travis Kalanick, criticizing the immigration executive order….”

“We wanted to let you know that Uber shares your views on the immigration ban: it's unjust, wrong and against everything we stand for as a company,” the email says.

“As recently as Saturday, Mr. Kalanick had publicly said in a blog post that the best route forward was to have ‘a seat at the table,’” writes Mike Isaac for the New York Times. “He had added, ‘We partner around the world optimistically in the belief that by speaking up and engaging, we can make a difference.’” 

Indeed, “the surprise move, which came as activists planned protests at Uber offices around the country, highlights the struggle Silicon Valley tech executives face as they try to balance working with the new president and his policies without alienating their customers or employees,” writes Marisa Kendall for the San Jose Mercury News.

“Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who also has experienced a backlash over his involvement with the Trump administration, on Thursday confirmed that he will keep his seat on Trump’s advisory council. Musk promised to object to the administration’s immigration order during Friday’s scheduled meeting,” Kendall reports.

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

Nearly 50,000 Uber drivers in New York City had signed a petition calling for Kalanick to resign from the advisory council, Jessica Guynn reports for USA Today

“This is an important show of solidarity with the immigrant drivers who helped build Uber,” said Jim Conigliaro, Jr., founder of The Independent Drivers Guild, which sponsored the petition, in a statement. “We are heartened that Uber has listened to the drivers and the community on this important issue that is so integral to the promise of the American dream.”

Reuters’ Heather Somerville and David Shepardson report that Kalanick “spoke briefly to Trump about the immigration order ‘and its issues for our community’ and told the president he would not join the economic council.” There was no report of Trump’s reaction.

“The executive order is hurting many people in communities all across America,” Kalanick wrote in his note to employees. “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."

Vox’ Timothy B. Lee says that Uber’s disabling of surge pricing was misconstrued but feels that the ride-sharing company has only itself to blame for the ensuing controversy.

“In reality, disabling surge pricing likely meant that Uber carried fewer passengers from JFK (since drivers were less likely to go there) and they made less money on each ride,” Lee points out.

“But on another level, Uber deserved this. The specific rap against them was unfair, but the company’s behavior has long been opportunistic. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has only himself to blame for the fact that so many Uber customers were ready to believe the worst about his company.”

It appears that Uber needs a dedicated “intentions translator” on its corporate communications roster.

2 comments about " Uber CEO Quits Trump Advisory Panel After 200K Delete App".
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  1. Ford Kanzler from Marketing/PR Savvy, February 3, 2017 at 9:51 a.m.

    Suggest this is a classic case of a company not establishing a positive public reputation so when the s--- hits the fan, people are notably more willing to believe the worst rather than defend the brand. Too late to fix it now.

  2. charles bachrach from BCCLTD, February 3, 2017 at 1:39 p.m.

    EVERYONE should quit (except Bannon as he has no balls) and this President is useless, classless
    and in general the worst leader of any country in the world!!!

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