SpaceX said to have fired employees behind company-wide letter criticizing Elon Musk

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SpaceX moved quickly to terminate at least some of the employees involved in the open letter circulated through the company's internal communications system this past Wednesday, The New York Times reports. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell also circulated an email to the company outlining the logic behind the terminations and generally denouncing the letter, which took issue with Elon Musk's Twitter use and its reflection on the company, among other things.

Shotwell's response called the letter, which was authored by “[e]mployees across the spectra of gender, ethnicity, seniority, and technical roles,” and which called for more signatures from others at the company (either anonymous or otherwise), "overreaching activism," and criticized it in terms of its use of company time. Here are the sections quoted by the NYT report:

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. We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism. [...]

Blanketing thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and fill out unsponsored surveys during the work day is not acceptable. [...]

Please stay focused on the SpaceX mission, and use your time to do your best work. This is how we will get to Mars.

In the original open letter, the group of employees not only called on SpaceX to "publicly address and condemn Elon's harmful Twitter behavior," but also to better define its broad internal policies against what constitutes acceptable behavior by employees, and for leadership to take advantage for ensuring it lives up to its high standards as a workplace.

This week also saw Musk host an all-hands Q+A at Twitter, the company he is still on track to purchase despite quarrelling openly with that company's leadership about the number of bots on the platform.

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