President Trump’s ban on immigration appears to be costing him plenty. After uniting the tech community against the new administration, the bill has also prompted the departure of advisors from the new government’s core advisory committees. Along the same, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has left president Trump’s economic advisory group.
News of the removal comes merely one day before Kalanick was slated to speak directly with Trump at the meeting of the President’s advisory council. The council was established last year as a means for the President to stay directly connected to some of the business world’s biggest leaders and receive their advice on policy and business matters.
However, after the immigration bill that saw entry from seven middle eastern countries banned for at least 90 days, pissed off a a fair section of populace and united many in their outrage, Kalanick also drew flak for being intimately connected with the new administration as the member of the advisory committee. Indeed, despite being one of the first to speak against the ban, setting apart significant sums for helping affected drivers and for sponsoring the legal battle against the law, Uber drew criticism for a couple of reasons.
One, the company did not conform to a strike that was called in favor of the immigrants by the taxi union and indeed, removed surge pricing for the duration. And two, Uber CEO Travis Kalanic’s apparent intimacy with the new government. These factors together led to a sharp decline in Uber’s popularity and sparked a #deleteUber campaign that say Lyft surpass Uber in App Store for the first time ever.
Both of these reasons along with the criticism received by Kalanick, and by extension Uber, for what was constructed as their apparent closeness to Trump, saw business suffer. Following the #deleteUber campaign, competitor Lyft also managed to get into the top 10 most used app on the store for the first time ever.
Meanwhile, Kalanick has now left the council. In an internal e-mail he said:
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.
The move could appease some of those who were complaining about Kalanick’s apparent closeness to Trump but, there are also those who feel that Kalanick’s departure means that another sane voice near Trump’s ears is lost. As an advisor to the President, Kalanick could have at least made his voice heard — and maybe would have done so on Friday’s meet — however, he succumbed to mounting pressure and fear of public opinion earlier, and perhaps avoided an argument with Trump in the process.
Meanwhile, the departure also serves to stress the role, the sheer power, that popular public opinion can have in influencing decisions.