Public pressure was just too much for Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to handle. Less than one week after backlash over President’s Donald Trump’s Muslim ban immigration order spawned the #deleteUber protest campaign, Kalanick is leaving the president’s side, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Mr. Kalanick was a late addition to President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a circle of ultrawealthy advisors. Last weekend, after Trump issued a blanket immigration ban on people originating from seven Muslim nations, Uber sat on the sidelines while taxi drivers protested by refusing to pickup passengers from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Infuriated, app users in the city and elsewhere started deleting Uber from their phones and spreading #deleteUber across Facebook, Twitter and other social media. By Wednesday, an association of Uber drivers had petitioned Kalanick to cut his ties with Mr. Trump.
“Earlier today I spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community,” Kalanick wrote in a letter obtained by The Mercury News. “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.”
From indifference to resignation, Kalanick’s response has trailed that of rival car-sharing service Lyft. The pink mustachioed competitor quickly committed $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union earlier this week.
With a net worth of $6 billion, placing him as the 290th richest person in the world, Kalanick sat on the Trump forum alongside a who’s who of billionaires, including IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and JP Morgan Chase Chairman Jamie Dimon.
The CEO of the Walt Disney Corporation, Bob Iger, also announced tonight that he will be pulling out of Trump’s economic council.
It’s still not clear what the policy forum advisory team has or will accomplish, other than putting The Donald in touch with ever more of the world’s wealthiest and most disconnected citizens.
Facing a Wall Street debut later this year, however, Kalanick’s Uber could not risk further alienating the public. He even told Business Insider that he plans to give Mr. Trump a talking during their next meeting.
The resignation is proof that relentless, painstaking protest can and does reach the denizens of high and powerful society, so long as it hits them where their hearts are: their pocketbooks.