SpaceX fires employees after internal letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk participates in a post-launch press conference inside the Press auditorium at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020, following the launch of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission agency to the International Space Station.

NASA / Kim Shiflett

SpaceX fired at least five employees involved in circulating a letter around the company criticizing the CEO Elon Muskaccording to two people familiar with the unnamed company and an internal email from President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.

Shotwell, in a company-wide email on Thursday, said SpaceX “terminated a number of employees involved” and called it “the vacancy of thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails.” repeat” is unacceptable, according to a copy of the email obtained by CNBC. The open letter, first reported by The Verge, went into circulation earlier this week. More than 400 SpaceX employees signed the letter in less than a day and a half, The Verge reported on Friday.

“We have so much important work to get done that we don’t need this kind of overwork,” Shotwell wrote, adding that the letter “annoys a lot of people in the company and” upsets employees. feel uncomfortable, threatened, and bullied. “

The letter was addressed to company executives, according to media reports, and describes the billionaire’s public behavior as a “regular source of distraction and confusion” for employees. SpaceX member.

New York Times first reported the SpaceX event. SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Musk is the private company’s controlling shareholder, with his trust owning about 78% of SpaceX’s voting shares as of last year. The CEO has created an often eccentric personality in the public sphere, especially on Twitter where he gives commentary and updates on SpaceX and his electric vehicle company, Tesla.

Musk has said that he uses Twitter to express himself, comparing his use of the service to how “some people use their hair“and is looking to acquire the social media company.

In one Thursday’s Twitter HandsoverMusk said free speech is important to users of the platform – even if a company is privately owned by him, like SpaceX.

SpaceX’s internal letter also addresses recent sexual misconduct allegations against Musk, reported by Business Insider last month. The report says that Musk sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant during a private flight and that the company paid the employee $250,000 for her silence.

Shotwell defends Musk after allegations of misconductwrote in an email to the employee at the time that she believed “the allegations are untrue.”

In his email on Thursday, Shotwell said SpaceX leadership is “more dedicated to ensuring we have a great work environment and is more innovative than any work environment I’ve ever seen” in her career. She also noted that SpaceX has three launches scheduled “within 37 hours” this weekend, as well as ongoing work to support the International Space Station.

“I apologize for this distraction,” Shotwell said. “Focus on the SpaceX mission and use your time at work to do your best work.”

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