Feeling the pressure
Trump’s team is already falling apart. Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned from the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, following a flurry of public outrage over the recent executive order on immigration.
In response to the ensuing chaos at international airports, the rideshare app suspended surge pricing to and from New York’s JFK airport, but the coinciding NY Taxi Workers Alliance strike and protest at the airport caused many to deem the move opportunistic. Lyft, by contrast, addressed the immigration ban by donating $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union.
#DeleteUber and their response
The backlash against Uber has been fierce and swift. The hashtag #DeleteUber began trending on social media, and last Sunday, Lyft downloads overtook Uber, maybe for the first time in the history of the two app’s rivalry.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Nobody wants to be deleted.” quote=”Nobody wants to be deleted.”]
In a staff memo (first obtained by the New York Times), Kalanick explained that “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.”
By contrast, Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk responded to the executive order with a tweeted defense of his role on the President’s Advisory Council: “Advisory councils simply provide advice and attending does not mean that I agree with actions by the Administration . . . I believe at this time that engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good.”
Tesla and SpaceX enjoy much more PR leeway than Uber. For one thing, its founder and CEO is well-known for his eccentricities and grand, literally out-there interplanetary aspirations.
No one expects Elon Musk to act predictably, or to bow to the public opinion that has previously doubted the feasibility of electric cars and private sector space travel.
Uber is more directly client-facing, more dependent upon “likeability,” not just pure tech innovation. Uber also has many more direct competitors, including their major national rival, Lyft. (Here in Austin, an Uber and Lyft-less city, we choose between RideAustin, Fasten, and Fare.)
Other Strategic and Policy Forum members include IBM chairman, president and CEO Ginni Rometty, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger, and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. As Trump keeps the surprise executive orders coming, various consumers and constituents can only wait and see how these leaders respond.