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Uber boycott forces boss Kalanick to quit Trump biz council, but Musk stays

Tom Mendelsohn
Getty Images/Visual China Group
Uber chief Travis Kalanick has resigned from US president Donald Trump's business advisory council after a bruising few days in which it was reported that hundreds of thousands of customers had deleted their accounts in protest at the firm's apparent cosiness with the US government.
In an e-mail to Uber employees on Thursday, Kalanick admitted that he was stepping back from the president's strategic and policy forum because the company was being widely perceived as "somehow endorsing the administration’s agenda"—a situation which appears to be bad for business.
The perception arose last weekend, in the chaotic wake of Trump's heavily criticised executive order to prevent the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. As sudden protests broke out in light of the travel ban, the New York Taxi Workers' Alliance—many of whose members are working class immigrants and Muslims—announced it would cease pickups at the city's main airport hub, JFK.
Shortly afterwards, in a move that was condemned by some as strike-breaking, privately-held Uber announced it would remove surge pricing—the surcharge it applies to its rates at busy periods—for rides from the airport.
That prompted some of the anger from Trump protesters to also be directed at the taxi app, which was valued at a whopping $62.5 billion (£50 billion) last summer. According to the New York Times, a Twitter hashtag campaign to #DeleteUber resulted in more than 200,000 people deleting their accounts.
Kalanick told staff: "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."
It's been reported that internal pressure from senior employees played a part in the Uber chief's decision, though protesters did also picket the firm's San Fransisco HQ this week.
Kalanick was one of 16 names in business to be appointed to Trump's business advisory council at the end of last year. He's joined on the list by Disney's CEO Bob Iger, PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi, and Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk.
Musk has similarly come under fire for his participation in the panel, and he was mocked for polling Twitter users to ask for recommended amendments to the travel ban executive order. On Thursday, he said:
Advisory councils simply provide advice and attending does not mean that I agree with actions by the administration. My goals are to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy and to help make humanity a multi-planet civilisation, a consequence of which will be the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and a more inspiring future for all.
I understand the perspective of those who object to my attending this meeting, but I believe at this time that engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good.
Musk added that, during a meeting with the council on Friday, he would "offer suggestions for changes" to Trump's travel ban policy.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK
Uber boycott forces boss Kalanick to quit Trump biz council, but Musk stays Reviewed by Chidinma C Amadi on 2:28 AM Rating: 5

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