SpaceX reported dismissing employees critical of CEO Elon Musk

HAWTHORNE, California (AP) – SpaceX, the rocket ship company run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has fired several employees involved in an open letter that blew up the colorful billionaire for his behavior, according to media reports.

The reports published on Friday quoted an email from Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, as saying that the company had laid off employees who put together and circulated the letter. The letter writers condemned Musk for actions that they said 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 from three employees who are familiar with the situation. The employees were not named.

It is unclear how many SpaceX workers lost their jobs, but Shotwell left no doubt that the company believed they had crossed an unacceptable limit.

“The letter, the calls and the general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and / or angry because the letter pressured them to sign something that did not reflect their views,” Shotwell wrote in her email, according to Times. “” We have too much critical work to do and no need for this kind of overarching activism. “

The launches took place on Thursday – the same day that Musk approached Twitter employees for the first time about his $ 44 billion deal to add the social media service to his business empire. The purchase is in limbo while Musk is trying to find out if Twitter has hidden the number of fake accounts on its platform.

As the Twitter drama unfolded, another report emerged hat Musk had paid $ 250,000 to a flight attendant to suspend a potential sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Musk denied the allegations of sexual harassment, and Shotwell sent an email to SpaceX employees last month saying she believed the allegations were false.

In recent weeks, Musk has also grossly mocked the appearance of Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Twitter and posted a poop emoji during an online discussion with Twitter boss Parag Agrawal.

The open letter from SpaceX employees criticizing Musk claimed that some of his tweets sent out to his 98 million followers put the company in a bad light.

“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 from the company,” the open letter states. “It is crucial to make it clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his message does not reflect our work, our mission or our values.”