SpaceX has reportedly fired the employees who released an open letter this week criticizing CEO Elon Musk and referring to his recent behavior as a “distraction and embarrassment” to the company.
SpaceX president and Musk ally Gwynne Shotwell said in a memo that the firm had “terminated a number of employees involved” in crafting the letter – noting the workers in question had “upset many” with an “unsolicited request” to add their signatures.
“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,” Shotwell said in the memo, which was obtained by The Verge.
Shotwell referred to the open letter campaign within the company as “unacceptable” and said the workers were fired after an investigation into their actions. The number of employees terminated wasn’t immediately clear.
“We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism,” Shotwell added.
SpaceX representatives did not immediately return a request for further comment.
The SpaceX workers who penned the open letter identified themselves as “employees across the spectra of gender, ethnicity, seniority, and technical roles” at the company.
They said they took action following allegations of sexual misconduct against Musk – who has denied the claims and joked about the situation.
“In light of recent allegations against our CEO and his public disparagement of the situation, we would like to deliver feedback on how these events affect our company’s reputation, and through it, our mission,” reads a copy of the letter published by The Verge on Thursday. “Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks.”
The workers called on SpaceX’s top brass to “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior,” among other steps aimed at checking Musk.
“SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand,” the open letter said.
The discord at SpaceX surfaced following weeks of contentious negotiations between Musk and Twitter’s board regarding his pending $44 billion takeover of the company. Musk’s buyout bid has rankled Twitter employees and liberal pundits who fear his emphasis on free speech will result in more harmful content.
Musk’s Twitter activity has garnered increased scrutiny during the talks – with his public declaration of support for the Republican Party and mockery of billionaire rival Bill Gates among the incidents that have attracted notice.