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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Is Leaving Trump's Advisory 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."

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Updated on

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned from President Trump’s economic advisory council after backlash from customers that spurred a viral #DeleteUber social media revolt and internal dissent.

"Earlier today I spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community," Kalanick said in a message to Uber employees. "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."

News of Kalanick's decision was first reported by the New York Times.

Kalanick's resignation from the advisory group ahead of its first meeting tomorrow follows a Tuesday all-hands gathering with Uber employees. Sources in attendance at the meeting told BuzzFeed News that Kalanick argued that serving on Trump's council put Uber in a better position to effect change and express dissent against measures like the immigration ban from the inside. These same people said Kalanick gave no indication that he intended to step down.

Announced in December, Kalanick's decision to join President Trump's economic advisory council sparked criticism of Uber. In San Francisco, protesters blocked off the entrance to Uber’s headquarters on the morning of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Then came a viral #DeleteUber campaign. That social media revolt took off on Saturday night after Uber appeared to undercut a strike by taxi workers this weekend, who were protesting Trump's order temporarily barring immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. Since then, many thousands of customers have deleted their accounts.

Protests were scheduled to take place at Uber offices throughout the country — including San Francisco, New York, and New Orleans — on Thursday; organizers in Palo Alto said those demonstrations will continue, despite Kalanick’s decision to step down as an adviser to Trump.

Here's the full email Kalanick sent employees announcing his departure from the advisory group:

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.

Travis

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Priya Anand is a tech and transportation reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.

Contact Priya Anand at priya.anand@buzzfeed.com.

Caroline O'Donovan is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.

Contact Caroline O'Donovan at caroline.odonovan@buzzfeed.com.

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