Issuing a clear stance against Trump’s immigration policy hasn’t done much to win over Uber’s skeptics
It’s been a rough week for Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The company, long seen as the ruthless corporate foil to the more egalitarian Lyft, faced public condemnations over the weekend that may have a lasting impact on his company. As taxi drivers at New York’s JFK airport struck to protest Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, Uber was accused of breaking the taxi strike with this tweet:
Surge pricing has been turned off at #JFK Airport. This may result in longer wait times. Please be patient.— Uber NYC (@Uber NYC)1485650205.0
The nature of this message, as simple as it is, remains the subject of controversy. Many claim that even though surge pricing was off (presumably to shut down any accusation of profiteering from a political issue), the message was sent out to drum up business, or at the very least, as a marketing gimmick. The tweet went out 36 minutes after the taxi strike officially ended, for what that’s worth.
That same day, Kalanick sent out an internal (but not really) message opposing Trump’s stance on immigration and stating that Uber will, in some fashion, compensate affected employees.
However, also included in the missive was language that many believe Kalanick used to bring to light other, favorably-viewed CEOs who serve as Trump business advisers.
The Uber CEO has been characterized due to his role as a Trump business adviser as a supporter of Donald Trump, which is...divisive. Many on social media are suggesting Kalanick name-dropped the other CEOs in an effort to boost his profile and public perception. Viewed through another lens, he’s been branded a “snitch” by some, despite the fact that this was all very public information.
The suggestions may not be subtle, or even correct, but they’re out there, with memes-a-plenty.
UBER CEO a 5 star snitch https://t.co/HBwmmDFOfP— Racial Draft (@Racial Draft)1485797149.0
lol Uber's CEO is like that kid in the group project who tries to drag the entire group to the ground.— Hayley Williams (@Hayley Williams)1485810202.0
Uber CEO as a kid https://t.co/8U5Rl9Nnyn— Benson (@Benson)1485800251.0
Oh, it goes on…
Uber CEO said he ain't going down alone 😂😂 https://t.co/gvVp7p2akd— Dubuisson© (@Dubuisson©)1485811316.0
Uber CEO made that call like "if I'm goin down EVERYBODY comin wit me" https://t.co/P7nRBgRpe9— The Spike King 👑 (@The Spike King 👑)1485805604.0
The tweets, memes, and puns seem to serve less as an actual indictment and more of a good-natured roasting of the Uber CEO, but the fact remains that there are several other very public execs serving as Trump business advisers, such as Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, who aren’t subjected to the same ribbing. People have always been skeptical of the nature and intent of Uber, and the company’s wising up to that fact. Realizing that serving as the de facto Death Star of the ride-sharing industry doesn’t bode well for growth and market share, the company took immediate measures.
The hashtag #DeleteUber became so prevalent this weekend in the wake of outrage over the immigration order that on Sunday the firm pledged $3 million to any drivers affected by the immigration/travel ban, announced via this post:
It's a fairly clear protest and condemnation of Trump's executive order, but much as public perception has dogged Uber almost since its inception, what’s less clear is whether this will be percieved (rightly or wrongly) as either a sincere gesture or a crisis management tactic.
Tune into Twitter to see for yourself.