Expedia CEO, who fled to the US after the Iranian revolution: 'Our president has reverted to the short game'

Dara KhosrowshahiGettyExpedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Dara Khosrowshahi, the Iranian American CEO of travel company Expedia, believes the US will be seen as a “smaller nation” as a result of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

Trump signed an executive order on Friday that has temporarily halted visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries — including Iran — from travelling to the US. Refugee arrivals into the US have also been temporarily barred.

“I believe that with this executive order, our president has reverted to the short game,” said Khosrowshahi in an internal memo seen by Business Insider.

“The US may be 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,” the memo continued.

Khosrowshahi moved to the US from Iran with his family in 1978, after the Iranian revolution.

A spokesperson for Khosrowshahi refused to say whether the Expedia CEO was himself scared to travel as a result of the immigration ban.

Khosrowshahi has grown Expedia into an $18 billion (£14 billion) business since founding the comparison website in 1996. He is one of many successful immigrant entrepreneurs in the US, with others including Google cofounder Sergey Brin, who was born in the USSR before moving to the US at the age of six.

The technology sector has become the clearest corporate opponent to the travel ban. The sector relies on talent from around the world, and firms have been mulling the best way to muster their resources to help immigrants living in or travelling to the US. Google established a $4 million (£3.2 million) immigration fund while Airbnb is offering housing to stranded immigrants.

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s internal note in full:

“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 US 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 US 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 travellers 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 US, a greater nation.”

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