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Uber CEO quits Trump advisory board amid criticism

JP Mangalindan
Senior Correspondent

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has quit President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council, Yahoo Finance has learned.

Uber’s chief executive disclosed the decision in a memo to employees on Thursday, obtained by Yahoo Finance. Kalanick said he withdrew from Trump’s advisory board in a brief conversation with Trump on early Thursday.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told employees in a company-wide memo on Thursday he had quit President Trump’s advisory board.

“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 explained to employees in the memo.

In December, Kalanick joined the Strategic and Policy Forum, an advisory board of 19 business leaders that now also includes Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk and PepsiCo (PEP) CEO Indra Nooyi. The move quickly generated criticism from some, who viewed Kalanick’s participation as a Trump endorsement. Some users in more recent weeks quit using Uber for Lyft as a form of protest.

Below is the full memo Kalanick sent to employees:

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.

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.  

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