Uber is the latest company to get jolted by today’s politically charged environment after social media users accused the ride-sharing platform of going too easy on President Donald Trump.
#BoycottUber trended on Twitter on Friday morning after its CEO said the company was willing to work with the Trump administration. Offline last Friday, protesters formed a human chain outside the company’s San Francisco offices.
Protestors decried Uber’s willingness to work with the Trump administration, specifically CEO Travis Kalanick, who will advise Trump on economic issues. Kalanick is in sharp disagreement with Uber CTO Thuan Pham, who sent out a fiery email this week swearing he would work to defeat Trump, declaring, "I do not accept him as my leader." Pham, a refugee from Vietnam, compared Trump to autocrats such as Mao Zedong and the Khmer Rouge.
Earlier this week, Kalanick told employees at an internal weekly meeting that Uber had to work with the Trump administration to accomplish its mission.
Kalanick reportedly told staffers, "We’re a coalition party; we’ll partner with anyone in the world as long they’re about making transportation in cities better, creating job opportunities, making it easier to get around, getting pollution out of the air, and traffic off the streets."
Uber did not respond to requests for comment.
Uber is the latest of a string of companies that unwittingly stirred outrage through political associations, both real and imaginary.
Uber also lost a key team member this month, when former Obama adviser David Plouffe departed for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
The schism between Kalanick and Pham is reflective of a larger crisis of conscience in Silicon Valley about the Trump administration. While several tech-sector leaders met with Trump shortly after his election, some privately voiced their opposition with Recode’s Kara Swisher, who has shamed executives for not using their influence, power and wealth to stand for their principles.
—This story first appeared in PR Week.