SpaceX co-founder and CEO Elon Musk have fired five employees who penned a letter in which he is criticized as a “distraction and embarrassment.” In the open letter allegedly written and signed by a wide spectrum of SpaceX senior and junior staffers, Musk’s behavior is described as errant and inconsistent with company culture.
In a copy of the letter delivered to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell, the employees said Musk’s public utterances have been mistaken to reflect the corporate view of the company, but this is not so; they asked that their CEO be held responsible for his utterances.
“Elon’s behavior 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. 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.”
Musk has also been involved in a number of sexual allegations that his employees said they are not comfortable with. Although the tech billionaire denied the allegations, Shotwell also defended him by saying he does not believe that Musk can engage in unacceptable behavior as alleged.
“Personally, I believe the allegations to be false; not because I work for Elon, but because I have worked closely with him for 20 years and never seen nor heard anything resembling these allegations,” Shotwell stated. “Anyone who knows Elon, as I do, knows he would never conduct or condone this alleged inappropriate behavior.”
While touting SpaceX to be a great place to work and an organization committed to making humans a multi-planetary entity, the employees in their letter said Musk has failed to uphold the positivity for which the private space company is known. They said it is their duty to call out their CEO for undermining the progressive activities of employees and causing them to lag behind in their corporate objectives.
“To be clear: recent events are not isolated incidents; they are emblematic of a wider culture that underserves many of the people who enable SpaceX’s extraordinary accomplishments,” they wrote. “As industry leaders, we bear unique responsibility to address this. SpaceX’s current systems and culture do not live up to its stated values…”
The employees then reeled out three demands they want the company to obey, which include holding that “SpaceX must establish safe avenues for reporting and uphold clear repercussions for all unacceptable behavior, whether from the CEO or an employee starting their first day.”
Shotwell announced in an internal email to employees that at least five staffers involved with the criticism letter have been terminated.