Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has succumbed to pressure to step down from President Donald Trump’s business council. Kalanick’s departure comes shortly after Trump’s travel ban executive order. The order, which bans entry into the US for passport holders and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, has been greeted with enormous backlash over the last week. In order to avoid the impression he supported the ban, Kalanick has decided to leave the council.
Last weekend, taxis halted their services to JFK International Airport. It was in solidarity for the immigrants (and friends and family thereof) affected by the travel ban. The protest, however, was not explicitly joined by Uber, whose rides continued to pick up passengers from the airport. Some protestors complained that Uber basically undermined the protest – while making a good buck – and called for Travis Kalanick answer for it.
In addition to the public outrage that pushed Kalanick to step down, the Uber CEO also felt pressure from his own employees. Several of Uber’s employees were immigrants as well. In a company meeting, some expressed their misgivings about their head’s connection to Trump’s economic council. The implications would create a stigma that extends to them, they said.
Travis Kalanick wrote an email to his employees in response to the accusations that he was somehow supporting the President or his travel ban.
Below is an excerpt, as shared by Fortune:
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… 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…
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.
— travis kalanick (@travisk) January 29, 2017
The Difficulty Of Boycotting Trump
Amidst the protests, some have called to boycott Uber and support competitor Lyft instead. But what some people don’t realize is the difficulty of boycotting every brand with some connection to Trump’s administration. Trump advisor Carl Icahn has a $100 million investment in Lyft.
Another of Trump’s advisors, Peter Thiel, is the founder of Paypal, a widely used online system of transacting. He’s also a fractional stakeholder of social media giant Facebook. Unless protestors want to completely drop use of these widespread brands, they’ll need to reconsider their real goals. Kneejerk responses have become a staple of today’s “outrage culture”.
A fraction of the anti-Trump movement has been criticized for being too intolerant of those with even the slightest connection to the President. While some, like Travis Kalanick, have buckled under pressure, others have maintained their stances against so-called “anti-Trump bullies”.
Any thought on Travis Kalanick stepping down? Let’s hear them in the comments below.