Uber chief backs out of Trump’s advisory council: “Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement”

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick has stepped down from the US presidential business advisory council, after intense criticism against the ride-sharing giant for its apparent support of President Donald Trump.

Following a leaked email in which Uber chief technology officer Thuan Pham called Trump “deplorable”, ongoing protests and campaigning to delete the Uber app, Kalanick has decided to back out of the council, of which major business leaders including Tesla’s Elon Musk and IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty are members.

In a memo provided to CNN, Kalanick says his decision was prompted by Trump’s executive order to prevent people travelling into the US from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“Earlier today I spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community,” Kalanick says in the memo.

“I also let him know that I 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.

“The executive order is hurting many people in communities all across America. Families are being separated, people are stranded overseas and there’s a growing fear the US is no longer a place that welcomes immigrants.”

Earlier this week, global tech leaders from Facebook, Google and Atlassian expressed grave concerns about the order, which has affected HotelsCombined chief executive and British-Syrian citizen Hichame Assi who was due back to the US after a visit to Australia.

Read more: A word of advice for Australian startups in the aftermath of Trump’s “Muslim ban”

“These developments in the US are not only disruptive to our business and our people, they’re very troubling and are creating more tensions at a time when empathy is required,” Assi said, according to Business Insider.

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes also spoke out.

“I am shocked and saddened by the impact these restrictions could have on not only Atlassian employees and their families, but all citizens whose dignity is being trampled,” he said.

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