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Uber chief quits Trump advisory group after uproar
[SAN FRANCISCO] Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick on Thursday quit US President Donald Trump's business advisory group, as a movement grew to dump the ride-sharing service because of his connection to the new administration.
Mr Kalanick said in an email to Uber employees that he spoke briefly with Trump about the president's recent executive order restricting immigration, saying he told him he 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," Mr Kalanick said in the email, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
Mr Trump's advisory group was established last year and includes Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk, as well as IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty. Its first meeting was reportedly scheduled for Friday.
"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," Mr Kalanick said in the message to Uber workers.
"Immigration and openness to refugees is an important part of our country's success and quite honestly to Uber's." Uber riders and drivers have raged against Mr Kalanick and his service for what they see as him teaming with Mr Trump, whose orders and appointments have triggered protests here and abroad.
A #DeleteUber campaign picked up speed on social media, urging people to drop the service and switch to rival Lyft - a company that saw its popularity soar after it said it would donate US$1-million to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has issued lawsuits against Mr Trump's measures.
Mr Trump's executive order issued last week targets people from seven Muslim-majority countries, temporarily banning nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.
"This is an important show of solidarity with the immigrant drivers who helped build Uber," said Jim Conigliaro, founder of an Independent Drivers Guild that claims to represent more than 40,000 Uber drivers in New York City.
"We are heartened that Uber has listened to the drivers and the community on this important issue that is so integral to the promise of the American dream."