Uber CEO: Trump is ruining America's most valuable brand

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has lived the American Dream. Now he thinks President Trump is ruining it."I'm incr...

Posted: Feb 23, 2018 4:08 PM
Updated: Feb 23, 2018 4:08 PM

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has lived the American Dream. Now he thinks President Trump is ruining it.

"I'm incredibly lucky to have emigrated to the United States at a time when our country was welcoming," said Khosrowshahi, who came to the US as an Iranian refugee at the age of 9.

"The American Dream is the single most incredible brand in the world. Everyone knows what the American Dream means," he said at a business summit in New Delhi. "I'm worried that with the attitudes that the administration has about immigration etc., that wonderful brand is getting ruined," he added to loud applause.

Asked about US government moves this week to further curb the popular H-1B visa program -- which brings thousands of Indian engineers to Silicon Valley -- the Uber CEO hailed India's "unbelievable" tech workers as one of the main factors behind the country's progress, and said the US should welcome the talent.

Khosrowshahi has criticized Trump's approach to immigration before. On the day of Trump's inauguration, when Khosrowshahi was still CEO of Expedia, he tweeted an advertisement touting the importance of travel to fight "narrow minds" and "prejudice."

Expedia was one of the first companies in the tech industry to file a legal challenge to the president's decision to suspend immigration from several Muslim majority countries in early 2017.

Khosrowshahi spent 12 years running the online travel company before being picked to lead Uber last August. He had previously worked at IAC, and before that as an investment banker for Allen & Company.

Speaking shortly before Donald Trump Jr. took the same stage, he said he believed countries tend to do what's right eventually.

"If America knows what's good for it from a long-term, from a democratic standpoint, from a skills standpoint, it'll do what's right, and that means being a welcoming country for people who want to come in," he said. "I don't think countries can improve by closing their doors."

He said India's efforts to attract more foreign investment and global companies would also pay off long term.

Related: Uber's Indian rival Ola scores $1.1 billion investment

India is one of Uber's key international markets, one that has gained even more importance after the ride-hailing giant was forced to beat a retreat from China in 2016 by selling its operations there to local rival Didi Chuxing.

But the Silicon Valley firm has been stuck in second place behind India's Ola, with a presence in 29 cities to Ola's 110.

Although they are fierce rivals, they share a high-profile investor. SoftBank, an early investor in Ola, recently bought a 15% stake in Uber.

Khosrowshahi this week downplayed suggestions that Uber join forces with its Indian competitor.

"It is too soon to tell," he told Indian news channel ET Now, one of the organizers of the summit. "Right now, my focus is on the quality of our operations and our teams -- that is why I'm here," he said in an interview.

-- CNN's Sherisse Pham contributed to this article.

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