#DeleteUber. That’s what got Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to abandon his principles and reverse a noble pledge to stand up for what’s right. Instead, Kalanick allowed himself to be bullied into stepping down from President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council.

This is the same uber-competitive CEO who has faced and fought boycotts, court rulings, and powerful labor unions in municipalities around the world. All it took was a freaking hashtag to bring the man down. To silence him. Hard to believe.

When the mighty fall, they fall far and they fall hard.

In an impassioned email to Uber’s thousands of employees entitled “Standing up for what’s right,” Kalanick wrote that you can’t make a difference if you don’t speak out and engage, saying, “I’ve always believed in principled confrontation and just change; and have never shied away (maybe to my detriment) from fighting for what’s right.”

That was his argument for joining Trump’s council. And all it took was a hashtag meant to silence his voice to get him to shut up. To walk away from a seat at the table that advises the U.S. President on economic and business policy. To back down on a lifelong core principle of his.

While I don’t necessarily agree with all of Kalanick’s views on Trump’s immigration order, I respected his viewpoint and his willingness to engage with other business and political leaders and help come up with better solutions to the problems that plague this nation.

What I find most disturbing is that he didn’t back down because some disagreed with him, but because some special-interest bullies misconstrued his participation on the council as tantamount to agreement with all of Trump’s policies and sought to keep him from participating in the democratic process.

In other words, Kalanick is doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason.

I couldn’t be more disappointed in the man. And I’m disgusted that more and more leaders are willing to compromise their principles at the hands of those who seek to silence them – to destroy the freedoms that have made our nation great.

Contrast that with Apple CEO Tim Cook, who, in December, explained his willingness to attend a round-table meeting at Trump Tower and meet one-on-one with Trump this way:

“Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be. The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. We engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think it’s very important to do that because you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best.”

And after the temporary immigration ban was signed, Cook flew to Washington to engage on the issue. That’s what great leaders do. They don’t back down, and they certainly don’t back down from those who seek to silence their voice. They stand up for what they believe is right and fight, as Kalanick should have done. That’s how our democracy works.

Image credit Fortune Live Media via Flickr

  • You cannot lead people you don’t influence.

  • “Silenced”?

    • Steve Tobak

      What, did I misspell it or something?

      • No, just mischaracterized it. I’m not seeing where he’s been “silenced.” Moreover, I seriously doubt that Trump seriously considers ANY views not already in line with his ad nauseum Smartest-Guy-In-The-Room own. This whole thing was “Silicon Valley Celebrity Tech Theater” to begin with. http://regionalextensioncenter.blogspot.com/2016/12/his-serene-highness-trumplethinskin.html

        • John Murphy

          “Silenced” is the epitome of the left’s PC tactics and of course they are more than willing to eat their own. It’s no secret that the technocracy has abstracted every avenue of human life and monetized it while siphoning of the spigot of cheap & easy credit….chanting Globalism…diversity. They assisted past president’s in to creating vast data profiles into everyone of us, tapping phones, tapping social media, …control control control. So if Trump’s plan is to create more of a PRO-Human…PRO-Americana…than Silicon Valley needs to shut up and listen.

        • Steve Tobak

          You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts:

          1. He made a commitment to participate in the council. 2. He made a commitment to use his position on the council to fight in an email to employees that was posted on Facebook and referenced on Twitter. 3. There was a successful #DeleteUber campaign. 4. He reversed course on 1 and 2 although, as he said, the campaign was wrongheaded. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

  • BigGameHunter

    Let no man or any thing ever attempt to re-define or dissuade you if it conflicts with the true you.

  • SamHanson

    If he is as strong and capable leader as you describe him, then I hardly believe a mere hashtag was what swayed him, it doesn’t make sense.
    Maybe he got a direct threat from the various Old Media Masters (an executive from one of the 6 corporations that control the media?) who told him that they’ll tear Uber to pieces in their networks if he won’t back down. They have the power to do that, just paint ’em red.

    Either way, it’s a shame he didn’t join Trump’s team, it could’ve been very interesting.

    What are your thoughts about the future of employment and robotics?