In the still early days of the Trump Administration, there have been a lot of protests and backlash against companies who have ties to Donald Trump. Namely, Uber Technologies Inc. has been getting a lot of slack for their link with the President. Conversely, the luxury electric automaker who happens to be a rival at times, Tesla Inc. hasn’t really gotten much if any criticism for their connections to the current administration. This is however, not for no reason.


Uber has recently suffered a noticeable loss of both customers and drivers over their mishandled reaction to the travel ban that was used to target people coming into the country from seven Muslim majority countries. Turning off their surge pricing after the Taxi Workers Alliance had halted work for an hour in protest at New York’s JFK Airport sparked many to cancel their service with Uber, as they saw this as a final straw of ongoing issues with the company. All of the opposition ultimately compelled Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to quit Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. It’s strange that there isn’t really that much backlash towards Tesla, even after CEO Elon Musk said he didn’t plan to quit the committee.

There seems to be a double standard as far as Uber and Tesla are concerned. There have been discussions between investors and senior management around how it seems odd that Elon Musk seemingly comes out untouched from his connections with the president and having membership on the same business advisory board that Kalanick had to leave.


This can even be seen when we look back to December when Uber had their registration to test their self-driving cars revoked by the California DMV for not applying for the proper vehicle license to do so. Tesla had done the same thing previously, but they weren’t penalized in the same way. The DMV didn’t agree with this notion, continuing to allow for Tesla drivers to be driven around by their robotic cars. Uber decided instead of filing the proper paperwork that many automotive and tech companies have (including Tesla), to move their testing to Arizona.

A good indication for why Uber has had more negative attention paid to them than Tesla is probably because of their household name status. More people in general use and think about Uber than they do Tesla. Tesla is popular, and people recognize that they offer a great product, but the fact is that Uber is more familiar to people on an everyday basis. And even when Uber has to deal with its main competitor Lyft, it’s still going to win out in as far as how well known it is. Finger pointing is easy when everyone knows who you are.


Uber has made some mistakes in the past with their inappropriate timing for surge pricing, like hiking it up when Hurricane Sandy happened. This time, dropping surge prices around a major airport while a high-intensity protest is going on was a truly bad idea. Uber also seemed to be in support of an execute order that would detain immigrants coming into the country. People didn’t like that, which prompted over 200,000 people to delete the app, which amounts to about 2 percent of active U.S. users. Although, despite the slight drop, it really didn’t affect Uber very much, as they ended off that week with more users that than they lost from the boycott.


Because Uber has a history of fighting regulators across the U.S., they can be seen as aligning themselves with the president, as he has been an advocate for less regulation. After getting all of this negative feedback, they were quick to fix their public image with some statements opposing Trump’s refugee ban, along with a pretty hefty $3 million to help its drivers who were affected by the executive order. Uber had to come to the realization that many of its drivers are of a diverse immigrant background, it would ultimately be in their best interest to speak out on the issue in support of them.