HAWTHORNE, Calif. (AP) — SpaceX, the rocket company run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has fired several employees involved in an open letter that lambasted the colorful billionaire for his behavior, according to media reports.
Reports on Friday cite an email from Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, saying the company fired employees who wrote and distributed the letter. The letter’s authors denounced Musk for actions they say are a “frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, especially in recent weeks.”
The New York Times was the first outlet to report the purge., based on information provided by three employees familiar with the situation. Employees have not been named.
It’s unclear how many SpaceX workers have lost their jobs, but Shotwell left no doubt that the company believes it has crossed an unacceptable line.
“The letter, the solicitations and the general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and intimidated and/or angry because the letter caused them to sign something that did not reflect their point of view,” said Shotwell wrote in his email, according to the Times. “We have too much critical work to do and no need for this kind of excessive activism.”
The layoffs took place on Thursday – the same day Musk addressed Twitter employees for the first time about its $44 billion deal to add this social media service to its business empire. The purchase is in limbo as Musk tries to determine whether Twitter covered up the number of fake accounts on its platform.
As the Twitter drama unfolded, another report emerged t hat Musk had paid a flight attendant $250,000 to quash a potential sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Musk has denied the sexual harassment allegations, and Shotwell emailed SpaceX employees last month saying she believed the accusations were false.
In recent weeks, Musk has also rudely mocked Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ appearance on Twitter and posted a poo emoji during an online chat with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.
The open letter from SpaceX employees criticizing Musk claimed that some of his tweets sent to his 98 million followers cast the company in a bad light.
“As CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is considered the face of SpaceX – every tweet sent by Elon is a de facto public statement by the company,” the open letter reads. “It is essential to make it clear to our teams and our pool of potential talent that his message does not reflect our work, our mission or our values.”