Private spacecraft engineering company SpaceX, run by Elon Musk, fired employees on Thursday who took part in disseminating a letter that criticized its founder and CEO.
Employees reportedly told The New York Times that those behind the letter, which they posted in a company messaging channel and circulated online on Wednesday, were investigated and asked to leave SpaceX.
“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,” wrote the company’s president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in an email to employees obtained by the Times. “We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism.”
The letter shared by now-former employees of SpaceX called Musk’s behavior “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment,” especially blasting his recent comments online.
“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,” read the letter, which was shared with The Verge.
Musk, who is in the midst of closing a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, regularly breaks SpaceX’s “No Asshole” policy, employees said, calling on the company to “hold all leadership equally accountable” for its rules and “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior.”
The letter also addressed recent allegations of sexual misconduct against Musk, citing SpaceX’s “Zero Tolerance” policy against sexual harassment.
A report published by Insider last month accused Musk of exposing himself to a SpaceX employee and soliciting her for sex, which he called “wild” and “utterly untrue.”
“The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens — this is their standard (despicable) playbook — but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech,” said Musk at the time, referring to his promises to promote free speech on Twitter once he acquires ownership of the platform.