SpaceX employees mutiny against Elon Musk in an open letter and are fired

After an open letter from employees criticizing the company CEO appeared in internal SpaceX chat groups, they were fired.

As The Verge reports, SpaceX employees shared an open letter to management in an internal chat group. In this, employees complain about the recent behavior of CEO Elon Musk.

In the open letter, available in full to The Verge, the staff also complained about Musk’s behavior on Twitter:

“Elon’s public behavior has been a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, especially in recent weeks,” the letter said. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX – every tweet Elon sends is a de facto public statement from the company. It’s critical to make it clear to our teams and our potential talent pool that his messages aren’t reflect our work, our mission or our values.”

Open letter challenges zero-tolerance policy

In addition to the statements on Twitter, the Tesla & SpaceX CEO also attracted attention with other negative press, including allegations of sexual harassment or the disparagement of Bill Gates on social media.


Below the belt: Elon Musk rails against Bill Gates

The letter, shared Wednesday on an internal SpaceX Microsoft Teams channel with more than 2,600 employees, argues that the company is failing to live up to its oft-proclaimed “no asshole” and zero-tolerance policies in the case of sexual harassment.

The document proposes three different “actions” to improve the situation: SpaceX should “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior”; the company should

“hold all leaders equally accountable for bad behavior”;

and SpaceX must “clearly define what exactly is meant by SpaceX’s ‘No Asshole’ and ‘Zero Tolerance’ policies and consistently enforce them.”

SpaceX responds with layoffs

SpaceX responded swiftly, firing a number of employees who were involved in and shared the content of the open letter. The letter was rated as “exaggerated activism”. News of the layoffs was first broken by the New York Times.

SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell has stated in an email

“having fired a number of staff involved in the drafting of the letter”. “The letter, prompts and overall process left staff feeling uncomfortable, intimidated, bullied and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign something that did not reflect their views” ,

like Shotwell.

“We have too much critical work to do and no need for this kind of overblown activism.”

An employee who was involved in the letter, and who wishes to remain anonymous, said other employees generally found Shotwell’s email “inappropriate.” The employee claimed that the letter was the result of a “month of hard work and soliciting feedback to ensure we got as much input as possible”.

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