Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has not had the best week. After accusations surfaced that his company was trying to profit off of immigration-ban protests over the weekend at San Francisco International Airport and word got out that he was on President Donald Trump’s Business Advisory Council, a #DeleteUber social media campaign was started against him and his company.
Kalanick tried to mitigate his losses by dry-snitching on the other business leaders involved with Trump’s council, and since that didn’t work, either, on Thursday he sent a memo to his employees saying that he was stepping down from the council.
Recode reports that in the memo sent to Uber staff, Kalanick focused on the issue the company had with Trump’s immigration ban and the implication that Kalanick’s participation on the advisory council was an endorsement of the policy and the president.
“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,” Kalanick wrote. “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 #DeleteUber campaign is still going strong on Twitter as of this writing.
According to The Verge, over the last week more than 200,000 users have deleted their Uber accounts, and Kalanick was also getting blowback from employees who said that they were suffering a personal cost similar to social stigma simply from being associated with Uber.
Kalanick can try to spin this any way he likes, but it is obvious that the power of social media and social media activism has had a negative impact on his bottom line, and now he is trying to bounce back from that.
The text of Kalanick’s memo is included below, but if you want to skip it, just know that he wrote an entire wall of flowery, corporate-value-laden text simply to say, “I fucked up.”
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.