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SpaceX staff write open letter on Elon Musk’s ‘behavior’: ‘Frequent source of embarrassment’

·3-min read
Tesla Musk (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Tesla Musk (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Employees of Elon Musk’s SpaceX have recently begun drafting a letter to the company’s top executives in which they outline critiques of the CEO’s online antics, The Verge reported.

The letter, which is being discussed openly in the internal chat system, is accepting signatures from employees of the spacecraft company, who will then forward it along to the desk of SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell.

“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” the letter, which was viewed by the news outlet, reads. “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.”

The letter claims Musk’s online activities, namely where he’ll often take to Twitter to air his latest hot take, is negatively impacting the company’s reputation, and by proxy, its employees.

Employees from “across the spectra of gender, ethnicity, seniority, and technical roles have collaborated on” writing the letter and they are encouraging others to sign it either anonymously or by identifying themselves, the document reportedly states.

It’s still unclear who the actual authors of the letter are and The Independent was unable to independently verify The Verge’s reporting on its contents.

The news outlet notes that they’ve contacted employees who shared the original document in the internal chat system, but they have not responded to requests for comment.

SpaceX was reached for comment by The Independent but did not hear back immediately.

The internal letter arrives on the heels of a recent report from Insider, which alleged that the tech billionaire paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against him. Mr Musk has categorically denied those claims, emphasising they were “wild accusations” that were “utterly untrue”.

“It never happened,” the Tesla chief executive stated.

The richest person on the planet is no stranger to controversy, having engaged in several high-profile public feuds with politicians, entrepreneurs and even the US president at one point.

In April, the SpaceX CEO hit out at Microsoft founder Bill Gates as part of his escalating feud with the fellow billionaire by tweeting a photo of Mr Gates next to a pregnant man emoji with the caption: “in case u need to lose a boner fast.”

Earlier this year, the SpaceX founder also took to trading barbs with US President Joe Biden, calling him “a damp sock puppet in human form” for not extending an invite to him to the White House for a meeting of business leaders.

These kinds of public feuds were part of what prompted the document to get posted within the internal SpaceX Microsoft Teams channel, which contains more than 2,600 employees, according to The Verge. Inside, they outlined how this goes against the company’s own stated policy of “No Asshole”.

To address the founder’s behaviour, the letter offers up three areas where the company could begin to improve, which included: the company “publicly address[ing] and condemn[ing] Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior”; holding “all leadership equally accountable” for behaviour that breaks with the stated policies; and lastly, SpaceX should more clearly define what “is intended by SpaceX’s ‘no-asshole’ and ‘zero tolerance’ policies”.

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