Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quits Donald Trump’s business advisory council

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has removed himself from Donald Trump’s economic advisory group, as first reported by both Recode and the New York Times, and confirmed by TechCrunch. Kalanick was set to speak with Trump tomorrow at a meeting of the President’s advisory council on business matters, which was established late last year and which also includes SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. The Uber CEO faced considerable criticism for his decision to work directly with Trump, and his association with the administration was at least in part responsible for the recent #DeleteUber campaign on social media, which resulted in Uber rival Lyft surpassing Kalanick’s app in popularity for the first time.

The move is likely welcome news to both Uber users and even employees, some of whom had expressed publicly their dissatisfaction with Kalanick’s relationship to Trump. In an internal email obtained by the New York Times, Kalanick reportedly told employees that his participation in the council “was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda,” but was “unfortunately” interpreted in that way. An independent organization of Uber drivers based in NYC also said in an email to TechCrunch they were “heartened” that the Uber founder did step down after it launched a petition asking the CEO to do so early on Thursday.

In an earlier response to Trump’s executive order on immigration shared via Facebook, Kalanick expressed his intent to bring concerns regarding the nature of the order to Trump’s attention at the meeting happening Friday:

While every government has their own immigration controls, allowing people from all around the world to come here and make America their home has largely been the U.S.’s policy since its founding. That means this ban will impact many innocent people—an issue that I will raise this coming Friday when I go to Washington for President Trump’s first business advisory group meeting.

Kalanick won’t be able to do that any longer, now that he’s no longer a member of the board, but in his internal email today he noted that he “spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community” while also letting him know that he’d no longer be a part of the council.

Here’s the full text of the memo shared internally by Kalanick with Uber employees, obtained by TechCrunch:
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