Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has withdrawn from Donald Trump’s economic advisory council, according to reports by the New York Times and Recode. The announcement came in an internal company email after a week of protests by advocates of immigration rights.
On Saturday night, New York taxi drivers announced a boycott of John F. Kennedy Airport to protest Donald Trump’s controversial immigration order. Uber chose to continue serving the airport — albeit with surge pricing disabled — a move that critics saw as crossing picket lines. A social media protest under the #DeleteUber hashtag quickly went viral, prompting many customers to quit the ride-hailing app.
Uber tried to address customers’ concerns by coming out strongly against Trump’s immigration ban and pledging to provide legal support to drivers who were affected by it. But that hasn’t been enough to mollify critics. They pointed to Kalanick’s scheduled participation in Trump’s economic advisory council as evidence that he was still too close to the president.
This group is supposed to help Trump get feedback from business leaders. Other members of the group include GM’s Mary Barra, Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty.
“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 in an email to Uber employees.
The announcement is the latest sign that it’s becoming harder for companies to remain above the political fray in the age of Trump. Consumer-facing technology companies, with their young, urban workforces and customer bases, have felt particular pressure to shun the Trump administration.