A group of SpaceX employees reportedly wrote a letter to the company’s executives outlining their displeasure with the company’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk’s, recent behavior and public statements. Employees described Musk’s behavior as a “distraction and embarrassment” for SpaceX employees, according to The Verge, the publication that first reported on the letter’s existence.
“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” the letter reportedly states. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX — every tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company. It is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission or our values.” Employees also urged the company to “address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior publicly.”
The open letter went live on an internal landing page, and it was then shared by a small group of employees across 10 Microsoft Teams chat rooms and one email list. The contents were audacious: the employees claimed that Musk’s recent behavior had become a source of embarrassment and distraction for the company. While the document eventually received 404 signatures, many more people reached out to those who shared the letter on Signal, in person, and through Teams, saying they would sign if they could afford to be fired right now.
After it was posted and shared by some of their coworkers in an internal chat, more than 400 SpaceX employees signed onto an open letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk in less than a day and a half. The internal landing page for the document was taken offline 32 hours after it was shared, around the same time that a group of employees were fired for their involvement in crafting and sharing the letter, a move that may have violated labor law.
SpaceX, the private rocket company, fired employees on Thursday who helped write and distribute an open letter criticizing the behavior of its CEO, Elon Musk. According to the reports published on Friday, an email from SpaceX’s president, Gwynne Shotwell, stated that the company had terminated employees who put together and distributed the letter. “The letter, solicitations and general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views,” Shotwell reportedly wrote to employees. “We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism.” Musk’s actions, according to the letter writers, have been a “frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks.”
The Verge reported that SpaceX has fired at least five employees who were involved in circulating the open letter condemning founder Elon Musk’s behavior on Twitter, demanding that the company disassociate itself from what they see as Musk’s increasingly toxic brand, and asking for equal enforcement of the company’s professed “No Assholes” and “No Tolerance” policies regarding sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior.