Covering Your Tracks

By: Sebastian Faura

Recently, with the election of Donald Trump, a new cabinet has come into power, including a retinue of various political, financial and business advisers in order to aid the president in his new administration. One member of this cabinet is Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, having been brought on as a corporate adviser for the Strategic and Policy Forum. While this in and of itself is a dubious success, what would follow in the wake of this announcement would deal a heavy blow to Uber’s success.

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Kalanick speaking at a conference in Germany. Source: Wikipedia

After just over a week in office, Trump signed a temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-dominant countries, sparking a worldwide protest against the executive order. In response to this, many airports across the nation were packed full of angry citizens, protesting the ban and trying to free those detained by customs officials. Alongside this, the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance protested the ban by going on strike, not taking any riders to or from the airport. Uber, however, continued their service, and gained greater profits from the strike. This was met with ire throughout the country, and even gained a call to action, with the hashtag #DeleteUber being a trending topic for a period of time.

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Protesters stand outside JFK International Airport with a painted flag in distress. Source: USAToday

Making matters worse, Lyft, the direct competitor to Uber, announced within the same time period that it would donate $1 million to the ACLU in order to protest the ban. To try and match the same efforts Lyft was making and to earn their way back into good graces, Uber went on to pledge $3 million to a defense fund for those caught in the immigration ban. It’s unclear, though, whether or not this was done to fight against the immigration policy, or to stymie the damage done to the company’s image.

David, Javier. “Uber Pledges $3M to Travel Ban Defense Fund as Backlash Widens, Celebrities Join ‘delete Uber’ Call.” CNBC. CNBC, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.

Blumenthal, Eli. “The Scene at JFK as Taxi Drivers Strike following Trump’s Immigration Ban.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 29 Jan. 2017. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.

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