Five SpaceX Employees Who Publicly Complained About CEO Elon Musk Just Paid the Price


Several employees at Elon Musk’s SpaceX circulated an open letter criticizing Musk this week. Now some of those employees have been fired.

The public letter taking issue with Musk’s behavior started making the rounds on Wednesday, according to The New York Times, which obtained a copy of it.

The employees began by mentioning “recent allegations against our CEO and his public disparagement of the situation,” an apparent reference to a claim by a former SpaceX flight attendant that Musk had sexually harassed her.

The letter went on to criticize Musk’s actions on Twitter, the social media platform he is purchasing.

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

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The letter requested that the company rein Musk in, the Times reported.

“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,” the employees wrote.

“SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand,” they said.

The company did quickly take care of the situation, but not in the way the letter demanded. By Thursday, some of the letter’s organizers had been fired.

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Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, sent out an email in which she announced that the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter, the Times reported.

“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 wrote in her email.

“We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism,” she added.

Reuters reported that at least five employees had been fired.

On May 19, Insider reported that a flight attendant had claimed that Musk asked her for a sexual massage in 2016 and exposed himself to her.

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Musk said the accusations were “utterly untrue” and even publicly joked about them in some of his tweets.

The Insider report came one day after he had said on Twitter that the Democrats had become “the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican. Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold.”

Shotwell defended Musk and said she believed the harassment allegations against him were false.

“Anyone who knows Elon like I do, knows he would never conduct or condone this alleged inappropriate behavior,” she wrote in a May 20 email, according to the Times.

Now Shotwell is urging SpaceX employees to focus on their work rather than griping about the company’s CEO.

“Blanketing thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and fill out unsponsored surveys during the work day is not acceptable,” she wrote in this week’s email.

“Please stay focused on the SpaceX mission, and use your time to do your best work,” Shotwell continued. “This is how we will get to Mars.”

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