According to media reports, SpaceX, the rocket ship firm run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has fired numerous employees who signed an open letter criticizing the eccentric billionaire's behavior.
The reports published on Saturday (NZT) reported an email from SpaceX's president, Gwynne Shotwell, stating that the corporation had sacked the staffers who drafted and distributed the message. According to the letter's authors, Musk's actions are "a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, especially in recent weeks."
The New York Times was the first publication to reveal the purge, citing three employees with knowledge of the incident. Employees were not identified.
It is unclear how many SpaceX employees lost their jobs, but Shotwell clarified that the corporation saw their behavior as unacceptable.
Shotwell noted in an email to the Times, "The letter, solicitations, and general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated, bullied, and angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views." There is no need for this type of overreaching activism since we have too many important tasks to complete.
The firings took place on Thursday (Friday NZT), the same day Musk addressed Twitter staff for the first time about his US$44 billion (NZ$69 billion) deal to add the social media service to his business empire. While Musk investigates whether Twitter has concealed the number of bogus accounts on its network, the acquisition is in limbo.
As the Twitter controversy unfurled, it was reported that Musk had paid a flight attendant US$250,000 (NZ$395,000) to drop a prospective sexual harassment complaint against him. Musk rejected the sexual harassment claims, and Shotwell addressed an email to SpaceX staff last month stating that she thought the allegations to be baseless.
Musk has also bluntly criticized the appearance of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Twitter recently and used a feces emoji during an online conversation with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.
The open letter from SpaceX employees criticizing Musk said that several of his tweets to his 98 million followers portrayed the company negatively.
"As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is viewed as the face of SpaceX – every tweet he sends is a de facto company statement," the open letter stated.
"It is essential that we make it clear to our teams and potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, mission, or values."