The American technology industry is as American as an industry gets, but it’s not just because it’s innovative and rule-breaking. And no, it also isn’t just because it’s swimming in investment capital, either.
The reason the American technology industry is so damn American is because it is made up of brilliant people from all around the world who hold passports from all colors of the rainbow. It’s American because it’s indicative of the unique melting pot that our country has offered to those outside our borders.
Some of the most successful American companies were built by immigrants, and are now being operated by them. I’m lucky enough to work in technology and live in New York city, where both of these entities were built on the backs of the huddled masses, the refugees from abroad, the immigrants who wanted to make something of themselves in another world.
That’s why it’s no surprise that the American tech industry had a thing or two to say about Trump’s executive order that banned travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Apple CEO Tim Cook came out swinging with a note to his company, stating very clearly that they support unadulterated immigration into the United States regardless of origin, saying, “I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support. We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company.”
“Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.”
It’s also worth noting that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian immigrant.
Netflix chief Reed Hastings was also not one to mince words, noting on Facebook that “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.”
He ended on a more positive note, asking people to take action: “It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity,”
Mark Zuckerberg was a bit more careful with his words, writing (on Facebook, of course):
“We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat. Expanding the focus of law enforcement beyond people who are real threats would make all Americans less safe by diverting resources, while millions of undocumented folks who don’t pose a threat will live in fear of deportation.”
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had a busy weekend. First, the company broke a strike while the New York Taxi Workers Alliance stopped service to NYC airports. Instead of standing with the taxi drivers, Uber continued to send cars, and announced they would stop surge prices. Kalanaick and Uber came under criticism after he released a relatively soft statement on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, he got in line, calling the order unjust and setting up a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services. In the meantime, the hashtag #deleteuber trended on social media and Lyft, Uber’s biggest competitor, surged past Uber in downloads on the Apple App store.
The #deleteuber and protests must of worked, though. Kalanick just announced he’s leaving Trump’s advisory council.
“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,” wrote Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on LinkedIn. Microsoft employs thousands of legal immigrants and clearly stands with them.
Chris Sacca is an early investor in both Uber and Instagram and is widely known in the technology community. He made his opinion known over the weekend by matching ACLU donations of $150,000 to help fight for the rights of immigrants.
Musk, the head of Tesla and SpaceX and a vastly influential figure in the technology community, tweeted that “many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US” who don’t “deserve to be rejected.” Musk is an immigrant from South Africa.
Google took more proactive moves, telling employees from affected countries to cancel travel plans outside the U.S. and to consult with HR for assistance. An internal memo from CEO Sunday Pichai said that at least 187 Googlers could be impacted by the order. “We’ve always made our views on immigration known publicly and will continue to do so,” he wrote.
“It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” Pichai also wrote in the note. “We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”
Google’s official statement to the public said, “We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US.”
Jeff Bezos, chief of e-commerce giant Amazon, sent an email to his employees on Monday stating that the company is actively looking into legislative measures as well as drafting an official declaration of support for Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit against the immigration order. He finished by saying that Amazon employees affected by the ban had “the full extent of Amazon’s resources” behind them.
While Uber was losing customers, Lyft was donating $1 million to the ACLU. And on social media, while #deleteuber was giving Lyft a ride up the App Store charts, musical artist MadeinTYO], who wrote the hit “Uber Everywhere” declared that he is now boycotting the company he once sang about.
“Usta uber a lot , not no moeeee,” he tweeted. The Atlanta rapper then pledged his allegiance to Uber’s rival Lyft by announcing “2017: @lyft everywhere.” His label, Private Club Records, lent their support and urged followers to delete Uber on Twitter, as well.
Technology mainstay IBM was more staid in their reaction, drawing criticism from tech blog Gizmodo, who were also sure to note that IBM collaborated with the Nazi part during World War II.
“IBM has long believed in diversity, inclusion and tolerance,” IBM’s statement began. “As we shared with all IBMers this weekend, we have always sought to enable the balance between the responsible flow of people, ideas, commerce and information with the needs of security, everywhere in the world. As IBMers, we have learned, through era after era, that the path forward – for innovation, for prosperity, and for civil society – is the path of engagement and openness to the world. Our company will continue to work and advocate for this.”