According to reports, several employees of the private space company SpaceX have been fired, and this week, a letter denouncing Chief Executive Elon Musk’s behavior was circulated.
In the letter, the existence of which was first reported by The Verge, employees complained about Musk’s “harmful Twitter behavior” and accused the Hawthorne company of not addressing his behavior with a sense of urgency.
“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere has been a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment to us, especially in recent weeks,” the letter said.
In response, SpaceX fired some of the organizers behind the letter, the New York Times reported. The paper quoted an email in which SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said the company had launched an investigation into some of the employees involved in the letter and had “fired several employees”.
The letter alluded to allegations of sexual misconduct against Musk that came to light in an Insider report last month. Musk is said to have suggested a flight attendant in 2016 for an erotic massage aboard a SpaceX private jet. The company paid $250,000 to settle the sexual misconduct claim, Insider said.
Musk denied the allegations.
The letter writers also claimed that employees faced unequal enforcement of the company’s employee conduct policies and called on the company to create a clear system for reporting and enforcing the consequences of “unacceptable behavior.”
They called on the company to hold leadership accountable and “publicly address and condemn Musk’s behavior on Twitter,” the letter said. The world’s richest man has used his Twitter account, which currently has more than 90 million followers, to post sex jokes, mock fellow billionaires, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, question the scientific consensus surrounding COVID-19 and express his growing affinity for conservative politics.
Musk has said that SpaceX’s goal is to make humanity “multi-planetary” by enabling recreational travel to space and the colonization of Mars. The letter asks whether the company culture is suitable for that test.
“The collaboration we need to make life multi-planetary is incompatible with a culture that treats workers as consumables,” the letter states. “Is the culture we nurture now the one we want to bring to Mars and beyond?”
According to The Verge, on Wednesday, the letter was shared on an internal Microsoft Teams channel with 2,600 employees. An unknown number of employees have signed the letter.
On Thursday, Musk held a video call with Twitter employees to answer questions ahead of his planned $43 billion company purchase. Following the call, the Project Veritas website published what it claims were private chat logs of comments, many of which were critical of Musk, posted on the company’s Slack channels during the meeting.
Musk responded to a right-wing activist’s tweet about the Project Veritas leak, saying, “Interesting.”