Uber CEO Leaves Business Council After Criticism From Trump Opponents

Feb 2, 2017
Originally published on February 3, 2017 9:07 am

The CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, has resigned from President Trump's economic council made up of U.S. business leaders. His resignation comes after a consumer campaign to boycott the ride hailing company because of Kalanick's association with the Trump administration.

In an email to staff, obtained by NPR, Kalanick said, "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."

Since Trump's executive order banning immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries came down last week it has sparked widespread protests. Many Uber customers were outraged when Uber lowered its prices while taxi drivers were on strike at New York City's JFK airport over the order. 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.

In Kalanick's email to employees the CEO pointedly rejected any ban on immigrants or refugees. He wrote: "The executive order is hurting many people in communities all across America. ... Immigration and openness to refugees is an important part of our country's success and quite honestly to Uber's."

Trump's council is made up of some of the wealthiest chief executives in the country — among them: Mary T. Barra of General Motors, Robert A. Iger of Disney and Virginia M. Rometty of IBM.

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The CEO of Uber has resigned from President Trump's economic council. Travis Kalanick says people misinterpreted his presence on that council as an endorsement of the president, and he's quitting amid a consumer boycott.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: A vibrant dump-Uber campaign began after CEO Kalanick joined the economic council. It picked up steam after Uber lowered its prices during a taxi strike at JFK Airport in New York, making it seem to some as if Uber was trying to capitalize on the taxi strike. The strike was over Trump's executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Uber said the price drop was unrelated, but it angered Uber users like Michigan resident Valerie Williams.

VALERIE WILLIAMS: Uber deciding to, it seemed like, kind of capitalize on everything.

SYDELL: Yesterday in an email, CEO Kalanick criticized the Trump administration's immigration order. Kalanick said it was hurting people and communities in America and that immigration and openness were important to the success of the nation - and to Uber's success. But for former customer Williams, that isn't changing her decision to dump Uber.

WILLIAMS: No. Like I said, it's too late. He - so now he's making this decision - what? - based on his wallet?

SYDELL: William says for now, she's using alternatives like competitor Lyft or taxis.

Laura Sydell, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.