In the 36 hours between President Donald Trump's signing of an executive order restricting immigration and the same rule's effects being halted by a federal judge in New York, the rivalry between Uber and Lyft abruptly became political. Largely as a result of its CEO's decision to serve as a Trump adviser, Uber is facing a hashtag-driven social media revolt – even though it appears to be doing more to support drivers affected by the new immigration ban than Lyft.
In Trump's politicized America, brands are caught up in a rapidly evolving political crisis, and are being forced to take sides. Trump's executive order suspended the intake of all refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. It also blocked people from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days. In the hours following the order, as the scope of the order became clear, pressure mounted on tech companies – who employ many immigrants on H1B visas – to publicly respond. For Uber and Lyft, who already compete for users with nearly identical services in a number of deeply anti-Trump cities, the ramifications of their political statements were immediately evident. By Saturday evening #DeleteUber was trending on Twitter. Meanwhile, Lyft was being touted as an easy Uber alternative and lauded for its denunciation of Trump's order and $1 million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Shortly after noon on Saturday — less than 10 hours after Trump signed the executive order — Uber told BuzzFeed it had reached out to about a dozen employees who may be affected with offers of support, including legal help. Travis Kalanick, the ride-hail giant's chief executive, who has agreed to sit on Trump's economic advisory group, prompting protests outside Uber's San Francisco headquarters, emailed staff at 1:20 p.m.