Communities

While Uber Flails, Lyft and Airbnb Step Up In Supporting Refugees And Detainees

by Andre Grant

January 29, 2017

Millions of people are outraged over President Trump’s ban on Syrian refugees and Muslims from seven countries entering the United States, but there’s no shortage of surplus ire for ride share service Uber. The startup was blasted for exploiting the chaos, eliminating surge prices in what appeared to undermine solidarity efforts among cab drivers and protestors at JFK airport on Saturday, triggering a #DeleteUber social media campaign that’s gained traction over the weekend.

The company was already in backpedal mode after recently announcing a sizeable investment deal with Saudi Arabia, a country with outdated, sexist restrictions against women drivers. CEO Travis Kalanick is also a member (along with Elon Musk) of Trump’s Strategic and Policy advisory board, which may explain why efforts to clarify the specifics over the price surging scandal and promises to set up a $3 million legal defense fund, among other efforts at ensuring driver compensation, haven’t quite succeeded in a public image upgrade.

 

Meanwhile second banana ride share service Lyft took a savvy 180 turn, offering to donate $1 million dollars to the ACLU, an organization dutifully fighting the Trump administration, including the most recent executive order.

Additionally, Airbnb has offered its help as a sharing economy first responder, promising to find free housing for those affected by Trump’s executive order to bar these vulnerable travelers. 

Details are forthcoming, but Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, wrote on Facebook that the company would provide “free housing to refugees and anyone else who needs it in the event they are denied the ability to board a U.S.-bound flight and are not in your city/country of residence.” A spokesperson for Airbnb gave a few more details as to how they would accomplish their goal. “We will leverage existing tools, like our disaster response tools, among others,” according to Mashable

Before the specter of Trump’s policies became apparent, Airbnb thought they could have a relationship with him. Chesky said in an interview last month, “President-elect Trump spent a lot of time talking about the quote-unquote 'dwindling middle class.' Someone who has talked about 'how do you help the middle class' out there, I think we feel pretty good that our value proposition here is something that makes a lot of sense." 

This action may potentially cause Trump’s administration to rethink that partnership, as he’s been concerned with public perception in his first week to a fault. 

Mark Zuckerberg has also come out against Trump’s ban on Muslims. 

“My great grandparents came from Germany, Austria and Poland. Priscilla's parents were refugees from China and Vietnam. The United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that.”

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While Uber Flails, Lyft and Airbnb Step Up In Supporting Refugees And Detainees