SpaceX Fires Employees Over Open Letter Criticizing Elon Musk

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

SpaceX Fires Employees Over Open Letter Criticizing Elon Musk
Heisenberg Media | Flicker

SpaceX has reportedly fired several employees who were involved in writing and circulating an open letter that criticized CEO Elon Musk.


The firings were first reported Thursday by the New York Times, which noted that SpaceX employees began sharing the letter—which labeled Musk’s public behavior and social media activity as “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment”—on Wednesday. Reuters subsequently reported that at least five SpaceX employees had been fired, though the exact number remains unclear. SpaceX did not return dot.LA’s request for comment.

The open letter was shared in an internal Microsoft Teams channel featuring more than 2,600 SpaceX employees, according to The Verge. The document called for the Hawthorne-based aerospace company to “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior” and to “swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.” Musk is a contentious presence on Twitter, which he is currently in the midst of acquiring via a $44 billion takeover bid.

“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 open letter read. “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 letter also asked SpaceX to “hold all leadership equally accountable” for the company’s workplace culture and to “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior”—adding that the company was failing to live up to its stated “no asshole” and “zero tolerance” policies.

In an email obtained by the Times, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said the company had “terminated a number of employees involved” in the letter.

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

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