Uber Exec on Trump: “I Do Not Accept Him as My Leader”
January 26, 2017
We appear to have suffered a coup engineered to the advantage of Oil Giants and a hostile foreign Petro State. (hate it when that happens)
Can the power of the Oil Industry be countered? Author Mike Roddy speculates.
Shortly after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, the Chief Technology Officer of Uber rattled off an explosive email meant for a small group of employees that quickly spread like wildfire within the company, Business Insider has learned.
In the message, CTO Thuan Pham blasted then President-elect Donald Trump as a “deplorable person,” and called his election a huge step backward — even comparing it to the rise of ruthless dictators such as Mao Tse-dong in China and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia after the Vietnam War.
The email was being circulated internally amongst employees again in the past week, as Uber has come under fire for its link to the Trump administration. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was recently named as one of 19 executives who will advise President Trump on economic issues, joining Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The visceral outburst by a top executive at one of the world’s most valuable private companies reflects Silicon Valley’s ongoing struggle to come to terms with a president who is deeply unpopular within the industry. Even Uber, whose outspoken CEO and aggressive business tactics have long courted controversy, appears to be divided by a crisis of conscience within the ranks as some employees weigh the costs of being perceived as a pro-Trump shop.
Uber’s ties to the Trump administration made headlines on Friday after protesters barricaded the doors of its San Francisco headquarters to denounce Uber’s “collaboration” with Trump.
At the weekly Uber all-hands meeting on Tuesday, Kalanick addressed the Trump issue and the blowback it’s created for the company. Kalanick pushed back against the criticisms, explaining that he was joining many other business leaders on Trump’s council looking to create job opportunities and to improve urban mobility:
“The CEO of Disney, the CEO of IBM, the CEO of GM, the CEO of Uber, the CEO of Tesla and maybe 15 other companies you’ve heard of… We have a party — our political party is called the Urban Mobility Party. The shorthand is UMP. 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. And so that’s what this is about. It’s about the leaders we have to work with around the world, not just here in the United States but everywhere. And being optimistic — asking can we make urban mobility better? But does it [the board/protests] make great headlines? Of course.”
Still, employees are “pissed” that they are being connected to Trump, whose comments about immigrants and women have upset many people, said one insider at the company.
On the surface, the two couldn’t be more different. Musk made a name for himself by making bold bets on futuristic technology: digital payments, electric cars, solar panels and privatized space exploration. His businesses typically require years of upfront investment before showing a profit.
He’s cerebral but a little reckless, like a precociously smart teenager — he proudly told the story of how he crashed a $3.5 million McLaren sports car while driving too fast in a bid to impress Peter Thiel. And he didn’t think to buy insurance first.
Trump, on the other hand, built his fortune in a business firmly rooted in the here and now, real estate, and his temperament is more like the scolding school principal’s.
They’re also diametrically opposed when it comes to climate change. Musk’s business interests revolve around reducing dependence on fossil fuels, while Trump has pledged to cut through regulations meant to fight climate change, and once called it a hoax (although his pick for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, has admitted it’s real).
So what to make of the fact that Musk was at the White House on Monday, appearing alongside execs from Ford and other old-line companies like Lockheed Martin and Johnson & Johnson? In addition, Musk was part of the December meeting between tech leaders and Trump, even though his companies have a much smaller market value than most of the others represented around the table, and he was reportedly invited to stay for a second smaller meeting alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Private sector competition. SpaceX is a perfect example of a private company taking on a huge task — space travel and exploration — that used to fall exclusively to a federal government agency. This is exactly the kind of private sector invention that libertarian-minded conservatives, like Thiel, encourage.
If it continues, this unlikely alliance could have benefits for both sides. Musk gets an ear to the president who’s promised to shake up the current order and make it easier for American companies to do business. Trump gets the support of a visionary technologist who could help repair his image among the Silicon Valley tech community, which was vocally opposed to Trump during his candidacy.
While this may seem surprising to a lot people, it’s not totally surprising to investors. Tesla is up about 31 percent since the election, while the Dow Jones industrial average is up roughly 9 percent since the election.