Welcome to the free market ladies and gentlemen …
It doesn’t really matter where anyone stands now on issues related to the president, the growing trend of pop-up protests or why people are deleting Uber at this point. Numbers don’t lie, and they’re telling us that recent backlash the ride-sharing company faced in the midst of it all is going to cost millions.
If you recall, a few weeks back, the president asked for a heavy-handed reform in the way we vet refugees before allowing them to re-home in America. Predictably, the move blew up in the face of uncertainty and many people took to whatever platform they had to protest the executive order (even though most polls agree the country is evenly divided over its implications). For some, that meant showing up en masse to the airports, a nuisance for travelers just wanting to get to where they were going.
The disruption’s influence inspired others to take part, too. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, for one, called for a complete shutdown of services. In direct response to travelers being stranded, Uber announced it would suspend its surge pricing at New York airports. Many saw this as a way to break the picket line, and by association, support the president and his new order.
This, of course, was far off the mark — Uber CEO Travis Kalanick even stated during the chaos that he thought the “ban will impact many people” and that he’d bring up concerns when he goes to Washington for the first business advisory meeting he was a part of.
Was being the operative word. Because after 200,000 people took part in deleting Uber (and subsequently pushing Lyft to the top of most downloaded apps in the Apple store), Kalanick dropped out of being in a powerful position to consult the White House. This was a clear maneuver by him to try and steer good favor back in his company’s direction. He even said so himself.
200,000 people took part in deleting Uber
“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,” Kalanick said in a memo to his employees (embedded below). “The implicit assumption that Uber (or I) was somehow endorsing the Administration’s agenda has created a perception-reality gap between who people think we are, and who we actually are.”
But the damage is done. Because the Internet and those that drive it are so quick to pounce on the latest selective outrage, innocent maneuvers like Uber’s can spell disaster for it and the people it employs. Just ask New Balance.
So not only did the left lose an ally that could have been a beacon of hope directly connected to the president and his administration, but if the #DeleteUber trend continues, it could mean jobs are lost as the company cuts back costs (not likely considering it's worth billions, however it is a foreseable possibility).
Tesla's Elon Musk, for his part, has said he's going to stay in the group to continue advising the administration and their efforts.
Though effective, the #DeleteUber protest is simply another misguided reaction to bigger things at play. Yes, it feels good to literally align your money with a righteous belief structure, but know that when hashtags suddenly mushroom out of the cracks of dissent, it's likely the whole story hasn't been told yet.
Take it from economist Tyler Cowen when he says: "Be suspicious of simple stories."
Full email from Travis Kalanick to Uber staff pic.twitter.com/SQLM4Q83si
— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) February 2, 2017