SpaceX fires employees who wrote open letter complaining about Elon Musk

SpaceX has fired a number of employees who wrote and shared a letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk’s behavior, with the company’s chairman criticizing the letter as “excessive activism.”

The open letter, first reported by The edge, described Musk’s behavior as “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, especially in recent weeks.” He cites SpaceX’s “No Asshole” policy and asks the company to “publicly expose and condemn Elon’s harmful behavior on Twitter.”

The letter writers said, “As CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is considered the face of SpaceX – every Tweet sent by Elon is a de facto public statement of the company. It is essential to make it clear to our teams and our potential talent pool that its message does not reflect our work, our mission or our values.

A number of the letter writers were fired Thursday afternoon, according to an email sent by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell and seen by The edge. News of the shooting was first reported by The New York Times.

In the email, Shotwell said SpaceX had “terminated a number of employees involved” in writing the letter. “The letter, the solicitations and the general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and intimidated and/or angry because the letter caused them to sign something that did not reflect their point of view,” said writes Shotwell. “We have too much critical work to do and we don’t need this kind of excessive activism.”

An employee who helped draft the letter, who asked to remain anonymous, argued that the general sentiment among other employees is that Shotwell’s email is “deaf”. The employee claimed the letter was the result of “months of hard work and solicitation of feedback to try to make sure we got as much feedback as possible.”

We’ve reached out to SpaceX for comment and will update this story if we get back to you.

Musk has long been a volatile figure, but since his proposed acquisition of Twitter in April — a $44 billion deal that has yet to be finalized — his behavior has drawn even more attention. Last month, Initiated reported that SpaceX paid a flight attendant $250,000 after Musk exposed himself to her and made her a proposition. Musk later joked about the incident on Twitter, telling another user “if you touch my sausage, you can have a horse.”

You can read Shotwell’s email to the company below:


You may have received an unsolicited request from a small group of SpaceX employees for your signature on an “open letter” yesterday and participation in a related investigation. Based on the various comments from employees, this upset many. That is, the letter, the solicitations and the general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and intimidated and/or angry because the letter caused them to sign something that did not reflect their points of view. Employees also complained that it interfered with their ability to concentrate and do their jobs. We have 3 launches in 37 hours for critical satellites this weekend, we need to sustain the astronauts we’ve delivered to the ISS and get the Dragon cargo ship ready for flight, and after receiving environmental clearance early in this week, we’re on the cusp of Starship’s first orbital launch attempt. We have too much critical work to do and no need for this kind of excessive activism – our current management team is more dedicated to ensuring we have a great and ever-improving work environment than anything I have seen over my 35-year career.

We solicit and expect our employees to report any concerns to their management, senior management, HR or the Legal Department. But blanketing thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and complete unsponsored surveys during the workday is unacceptable, goes against our documented policy. of the manual and does not show the strong judgment needed to work in this very difficult area of ​​space transportation. We investigated and terminated a number of employees involved.

I’m sorry for this distraction. Please stay focused on the SpaceX mission and use your time at work to do your best. This is how we will get to Mars.


Update Friday, June 17, 4:20 a.m.: The story has been updated with Shotwell’s full letter.

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