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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quits Trump advisory council

Kalanick tells employees that joining the economic advisory team "wasn't meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda."

CEO Travis Kalanick says joining the president's advisory council was "misinterpreted" as endorsing Trump and his agenda.
James Martin/CNET

Uber's Travis Kalanick has resigned from President Donald Trump's economic advisory council.

The CEO of the ride-hailing company shared the news with employees in a memo Thursday. The news was reported earlier by The New York Times and Recode.

In the memo, Kalanick said he talked to the president about his controversial immigration ban and how it has affected the Uber "community."

"I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council," said Kalanick. "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."

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk also had signed on to the advisory group ahead of Trump's inauguration. In a statement late Thursday, Musk said he'll remain on the council. The first meeting is Friday.

"In tomorrow's meeting, I and others will express our objections to the recent executive order on immigration and offer suggestions for changes to the policy," Musk said.

"Advisory councils simply provide advice and attending does not mean that I agree with actions by the administration," Musk said. "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."

Uber faced backlash in the past week following Trump's executive order Friday that temporarily bans refugees from around the world and visitors from seven mostly Muslim countries.

The #DeleteUber hashtag took off on social media after the company put a halt to surge pricing during a taxi strike over the ban. The company's move was perceived by some as an attempt to break the strike and profit off the protests. Over the past six days, more than 200,000 Uber accounts have been deleted, according to the Times.

Kalanick's initial criticism of the ban was viewed as a bit weak, but in a Facebook post Sunday he called the ban "unjust." He also said the company will do everything it can to support affected drivers, including compensating them for lost earnings and creating a $3 million legal defense fund.

"Immigration and openness to refugees is an important part of our country's success and quite honestly to Uber's," Kalanick said in the Thursday memo. "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."

First published Feb. 2, 2:03 p.m. PT.
Update, Feb. 3, 8:35 a.m. PT: Adds statement from Elon Musk.

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