The silence from Silicon Valley had been deafening.
After weeks of deafening silence and quiet acquiescence, top tech leaders finally began to react strongly to policies of the new administration, spurred by a capricious immigration ban on some Muslim countries ordered by President Donald Trump on Friday.
Reactions varied — with many largely focusing on the impact of the executive order on employees across the globe.
Thank goodness for Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who finally voiced on Facebook in a personal statement what many in Silicon Valley have been thinking:
Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.
In a blog post, high-profile investor Sam Altman called on tech leaders to do more to oppose Trump. While there are plenty of actions Trump has already taken that are worth opposing, Altman said yesterday’s executive order on immigration “is tantamount to a Muslim ban and requires objection.”
“I am obviously in favor of safety and rules, but broad-strokes actions targeted at a specific religious group is the wrong solution, and a first step toward a further reduction in rights,” Altman said.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said he would bring up the issues at a meeting he will be having with Trump this week.
“While every government has their own immigration controls, allowing people from all around the world to come here and make America their home has largely been the U.S.’s policy since its founding,” Kalanick wrote to employees and posted on Facebook. “That means this ban will impact many innocent people — an issue that I will raise this coming Friday when I go to Washington for President Trump’s first business advisory group meeting.”
Lyft CEO Logan Green was less equivocal: “Throughout our history, Lyft has worked hard to create an inclusive, diverse and conscientious community where all of our drivers and passengers feel welcome and respected. Banning people of a particular religion from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values.”
Google released a much more muted response, focused on its employees, after an earlier memo by CEO Sundar Pichai that talked about hundreds being impacted within the company.
Said a spokesperson: “We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S. We’ll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere.”
Microsoft did much the same, with CEO Satya Nadella noting his own immigrant background. “As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world. We will continue to advocate on this important topic,” he wrote.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had already posted on the subject yesterday, noting: “Like many of you, I’m concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump. We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat. We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help.”
The company said today: “We are assessing the impact on our workforce and determining how best to protect our people and their families from any adverse effects.”
Watch: Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ won’t help security
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Author: Kara Swisher
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