SpaceX Reportedly Fires Employees Over Open Letter Denouncing Elon Musk

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Topline

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has fired employees who took part in writing and sharing an open letter criticizing the billionaire chief executive of the rocket company, according to multiple news reports, amid a string of allegations and public rebukes against Musk as scrutiny intensifies over his efforts to buy Twitter.

Key Facts

SpaceX fired at least five employees for their role in drafting and circulating the open letter, according to Reuters, citing two people familiar with the matter.

The letter, first reported by The Verge, called Musk “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment” and urged the company to “publicly address and condemn” his behavior.

News that people had been fired over the letter was first reported by the New York Times on Thursday, citing three employees familiar with the matter and an email from SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell.

In the email, which has also been seen by The Verge, Shotwell said the firm had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter.

Shotwell wrote that the letter made employees “feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied,” adding that SpaceX has “no need for this kind of overreaching activism.”

SpaceX did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

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Key Background

The open letter comes a month after an Insider report alleging Musk exposed himself to a SpaceX flight attendant on the firm’s jet. It marks the latest in a string of controversies surrounding the outspoken billionaire as he faces renewed scrutiny while trying to close a $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter. In his first address to the social media firm’s board, Musk declined to rule out layoffs and said only “exceptional” workers would be allowed to work remotely. He frequently uses the platform to hit back at critics, including computer billionaire Bill Gates, as well as to hype up various meme cryptocurrencies and his companies. He has been censured by regulators for his tweets in the past and sued for allegedly misleading investors by a Twitter shareholder. Musk was also sued this week for allegedly manipulating the price of dogecoin, a meme-based cryptocurrency, on Twitter in a deliberate “crypto pyramid scheme.”

Big Number

$201 billion. That’s the estimated net worth of Musk, according to Forbes’ real-time tracker. His fortune shrunk by $14.2 billion on Thursday as shares of his electric carmaker Tesla dropped by nearly 9%.

Further Reading

Why Elon Musk Is $14 Billion Poorer Thursday (Forbes)

SpaceX Said to Fire Employees Involved in Letter Rebuking Elon Musk (NYT)

SpaceX employees draft open letter to company executives denouncing Elon Musk’s behavior (The Verge)

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