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SpaceX fires employees who wrote an open letter and complained about Musk

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

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

The letter writers said: “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX ̵[ads1]1; every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement from the company. It is crucial to make it clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his message does not reflect our work, our mission or our values. “

A number of the letter’s authors were fired Thursday afternoon, according to an email sent by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell and seen by The Verge. The news of the shooting was first reported by New York Times.

In the email, Shotwell said that SpaceX had “terminated a number of employees involved” in drafting the letter. “The letter, the calls and the general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied and / or angry because the letter pressured them to sign something that did not reflect their views,” Shotwell wrote. “We have too much critical work to do and no need for this kind of overarching activism.”

An employee who had input in writing the letter, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed that the general feeling among other employees is that Shotwell’s e-mail is “tone deaf”. The employee claimed that the letter was the result of a “month of dedicated hard work and getting feedback to try to make sure we got as much input as possible.”

We have contacted SpaceX for comments and will update this story if we hear back.

Musk has long been a volatile figure, but since his proposed acquisition of Twitter in April – a $ 44 billion deal yet to be finalized – his behavior has attracted even more attention. Last month, Insider reported that SpaceX paid a flight attendant $ 250,000 after Musk allegedly exposed herself to her and proposed to her. Musk later joked about the incident on Twitter, telling another user “if you touch my pastry, you can get 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 your participation in a related survey. Based on diverse feedback from employees, this has upset many. That is, the letter, the encouragement, and the general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated, and bullied, and / or angry because the letter pressured them to sign something that did not reflect their views. Employees also complained that it disrupted their ability to focus on and do their job. We have 3 launches within 37 hours for critical satellites this weekend, we have to support the astronauts we delivered to the ISS and get the cargo Dragon back to the airplane, and after receiving environmental approval early this week, we are on our way to Starship’s first orbital attempt. We have too much critical work to do and no need for this kind of overarching activism – our current management team is more dedicated to ensuring that we have a great and ever better working environment than anything I have seen in my 35 year long career.

We encourage and expect our employees to report any concerns to their management, senior management, HR or legal. However, covering thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and complete unsponsored surveys during the business day is unacceptable, contrary to our documented handbook policy, and does not show the strong judgment needed to work in just this. challenging space transport sector. We conducted an investigation and have laid off a number of employees involved.

I apologize for this distraction. Stay focused on the SpaceX mission and spend your time at work doing your best work. This is how we get to Mars.

Update Friday 17. June at 04.20: The story is updated with the entire letter to Shotwell.

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