Online travel industry giant Expedia Inc. has more at stake in U.S. immigration policy than many other companies do, given its natural business interest in global travel, and its team of engineers and business leaders from around the world.
The CEO of the Bellevue, Wash.-based company, Dara Khosrowshahi, also has a unique personal perspective, as a native of Iran who immigrated to the U.S. as a kid with his family after the Iranian Revolution. As the longtime leader of a company with a market value of more than $18 billion, he’s an example of the benefits of immigration for the country.
In an internal email to Expedia’s employees this morning, obtained by GeekWire, the Expedia CEO spoke out against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. The order prevents citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya from entering the U.S. for 90 days, suspends all refugee immigration for 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees from entering the country indefinitely.
“I believe that with this Executive Order, our President has reverted to the short game,” Khosrowshahi told Expedia employees in the message. “The U.S. may be an ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking versus forward thinking, reactionary versus visionary.”
Khosrowshahi said at last fall’s GeekWire Summit that Trump’s worldview and Expedia’s philosophy are diametrically opposed. Khosrowshahi said at the time that travel can help bring people together and break down barriers. Those are key tenets of Expedia’s mission, and ideals Khosrowshahi said Trump does not represent.
Here’s an extended excerpt from Khosrowshahi’s email to employees this morning.
As you know, the rallying cry for our company this year is to Go Global. We believe that, in becoming a company that is satisfying travel demand all over the world, we become a stronger, better, smarter company. Our assets in this growth, our winning formula, is in our people, you. And we believe that, in order to Go Global, to provide that magical travel research, booking and fulfillment experience to a customer in Milwaukee or Newcastle or Penang or Fortaleza or Tunis, we have to understand their needs and wants, we have to understand THEM. This requires us to have a perspective that is broad and balanced, one that considers the near term benefit of serving our core customer, but one that also plays the long game, that brings in new customers into our global marketplace, stretches our services a bit, creates a bit of complexity, but ultimately makes us so much better as a wholistic entity. This requires us to have an employee base which is broad, compassionate, entrepreneurial, and always seeking out different ways of getting things done.
My family emigrated to the U.S. after the Iranian revolution in 1978. We sure didn’t feel like refugees, but in hindsight I guess we were – my father and mother left everything behind to come here – to be safe and give their boys a chance to re-build a life. I remember my father taking us to meeting with lawyers, interviews with immigration officers, doing everything he could to get us that treasured Green Card – and the happiness, the sense of relief, when he finally did – we knew that we were welcome now, and we would be welcome tomorrow.
I believe that with this Executive Order, our President has reverted to the short game. The U.S. may be an ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking versus forward thinking, reactionary versus visionary.
We, as a company, however, will continue to play the long game. We will do our part to bring travelers from all over the world together to learn about the other, the new and unknown, the uncomfortable. We will look to hire a talent pool and leadership which is truly balanced and global and inclusive.
We will look to make the world a smaller place, and maybe, the U.S., a greater nation.