Silicon Valley lashes out at Trump ban


For months, Silicon Valley seemed to be heeding the advice of one of its most powerful figures, billionaire investor Peter Thiel, who said President Trump should be taken “seriously, but not literally”.

But at the international arrivals gate at San Francisco airport at the weekend, things were getting very literal, very quickly. What the tech industry had feared might happen, was happening.

The impact of President Trump’s immigration ban on tech companies has been immediate. And one by one, the major firms and personalities in this part of the world spoke out with a fervour some felt was long overdue.

It was Google’s Sundar Pichai who really got the ball rolling. Late on Friday, he sent a memo to all employees raising his concerns and revealing that more than 100 Google staff were directly affected. His words were quickly shared beyond the inboxes of the search giant.

On Saturday, Google co-founder Sergey Brin briefly joined protesters at the airport. Also seen was Sam Altman, who runs Y Combinator, the leading “accelerator” programme for new tech start-ups.

‘Ignores history’

Through social media, we heard from Netflix’s Reed Hastings who said the executive order was “so un-American it pains us all”.

Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey said the repercussions were “real and upsetting”.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook told staff the order was “not a policy we support”.

It kept on coming.

“Misguided,” said Microsoft. “Ignores history,” said Mozilla.

AirBnB co-founder Brian Chesky offered free housing to anyone caught outside the US, unable to return home.

Slack’s Stewart Butterfield invoked historical comparisons in his statement, tweeting: “My grandfather came from Poland between the wars, at 17, sponsored by an elder sister. Two more siblings made it. Everyone else died.”

“Trump’s immigration ban is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values,” said Logan Green, head of ride-sharing firm Lyft, a company less well-known in Europe but one that competes with Uber in the US.

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick said “this ban will impact many innocent people”, and set up a $3m (£2.4m) fund to support staff, including drivers, caught up by the orders.