SpaceX Fires At Least Five Staff For Letter Criticising Elon Musk – Report

Senior management at SpaceX have reportedly fired at least five staff members, after an open letter this week criticised the recent behaviour of CEO Elon Musk.

Earlier this week the Verge published the open letter, which described how Musk’s actions (including his Twitter takeover, SEC bashing etc) and the recent allegations of sexual harassment against him (which he has denied) are negatively affecting SpaceX’s reputation.

The document claims that SpaceX staff “across the spectra of gender, ethnicity, seniority, and technical roles collaborated on” writing the letter.

Image credit: SpaceX

Open letter

The letter was posted in the internal chat system of SpaceX, and staff were asked to sign onto the letter by filling out a survey or scanning a QR code.

And the letter was pretty damning, with SpaceX staff writing that Elon Musk is a “distraction and embarrassment.”

“Elon’s behaviour in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” the letter 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.”

The letter reportedly generated more than a hundred comments in the Teams channel, with many employees agreeing to the spirit of the missive.

The letter urged SpaceX executives to “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior. SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.”

Staff fired

But their actions have come with a price.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that SpaceX had fired a number of employees associated with the letter, citing three employees with knowledge of the situation as its source.

Reuters meanwhile, citing two people familiar with the matter, reported that at least five employees were fired over the matter.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The New York Times reported that SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell had sent an email saying the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter.

The newspaper said Shotwell’s email said employees involved with circulating the letter had been fired for making other staff feel “uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views”.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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