Elon Musk has millions of critics – and devoted fans – and nowhere is that more evident than on Twitter. Musk, who is the world’s richest man and CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company and Neuralink, announced plans to buy the social media company in April, fueling debate over whether he is a genius. Who is saving the world or just a billionaire with a big platform. And more people, including his own employees, have begun to question the increasingly blurred line between his Twitter personality and his role as the leader of several major companies.
Last Thursday, SpaceX reportedly fired at least five employees involved in writing a letter to company executives condemning Musk’s recent behavior — most notably on Twitter, where he interacted more with right-wing politicians and pundits. Talking bar. In recent months, Musk’s Twitter activity has included posting a meme targeting Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde, shed light on the allegation that he sexually assaulted a SpaceX flight attendant, and Making fun of Bill Gates’ appearance, The letter focused on Musk’s behavior on Twitter, where he has been increasingly vocal about US politics and his criticisms. Democratic Party, which he says is swept away very far left,
“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere has often been a source of distraction and embarrassment to us, especially in recent weeks,” the letter reads. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX – any tweet that Elon sends is a genuine public statement by the company.”
The firing follows a Verge report Thursday about the letter, which represents the first time such a document has been asked for Musk from employees, and the most public concrete action ever taken against Musk by employees of one of his companies. Marks one of the Musk already has a lot of influence, but now that he is well on his way to owning one of America’s biggest social media platforms, Twitter, his voice will reach even further. It also means that he will have a greater ability to influence what people say about him. The SpaceX letter, and the subsequent firing of employees associated with it, reveal how Musk presents himself as a person – as a very public figure – and is represented by, or misinformed, his employees by his CEO. There is a growing tension between the manner in which it is presented.
One of the action items proposed by employees in the letter is to “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior” and “sharply and clearly dissociate ourselves from Elon’s personal brand.”
But the SpaceX letter isn’t only related to Musk’s abrasive “personal brand” on Twitter. The letter authors argue that this behavior was “symbolic” of a larger culture issue at SpaceX. “SpaceX’s current system and culture does not live up to its stated values,” the letter said. It called on leaders to better promote a workplace culture that values diversity, equality and inclusion.
The companies that Musk runs have faced numerous allegations of promoting an unhealthy, or even abusive, work environment. On Thursday, Tesla investor Solomon Chow filed a lawsuit against Tesla in Texas, where the company is headquartered, for failing to adequately address claims of workplace abuse. “Tesla has created a toxic workplace culture based on racist and sexist abuse and discrimination against its employees,” Chou said in the lawsuit.
It follows a February case in which the state of California sued Tesla’s Fremont factory over allegations of racism. The lawsuit represents more than 4,000 former and current black workers who claimed that black workers were segregated at different parts of the factory. According to interviews conducted by the Los Angeles Times, there was a particularly labor-intensive section of the plant that was nicknamed “the Plantation” by Tesla workers. One black activist said he heard racial slurs 50 to 100 times a day.
Musk’s companies have also faced issues of sexual harassment at the workplace. In 2021, five former SpaceX employees told The Verge that they had faced or witnessed sexual harassment at the company. Ashley Kosak, a former SpaceX engineer, published an essay detailing her experience during her time at the company, where she started as an intern in 2017. she wrote. “Everyone who harassed me was tolerated, despite the company’s so-called intolerant and no-ass policy.”
SpaceX’s “no asshole” policy is well known. President Gwynne Shotwell has claimed that the company’s zero tolerance for idiots prevents interruptions, which in turn spur innovation. An open letter prepared by employees last week claimed that, in fact, the company did not live up to the policy.
Musk himself has also been accused of misbehaving with employees. In May, Business Insider reported an allegation that Musk sexually assaulted a SpaceX flight attendant, exposed himself to her and offered to buy her a horse in exchange for an “erotic massage.” after the report Musk made fun of it on Twitter,
Now, five SpaceX employees have lost their jobs after criticizing their CEO’s leadership. SpaceX has yet to respond to questions about whether Musk was directly involved in sacking employees, but Musk has a purported history of firing critics; in the book Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the CenturyIn , writer Tim Higgins reports several instances of Musk shooting his employees in moments of anger, including those who disagreed with him. Bloomberg reporter and Musk biographer Ashley Vance cites a SpaceX engineer in her book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future who said that “the long-term employees of this era were not well behaved.” The employee recalled some engineers were “being blamed for things they didn’t do” and fired. “The Kiss of Death was proving Elon something wrong,” Engineer told Vance.
The SpaceX employee letter and its results further reveal an incompatibility between Elon Musk as the genius innovator and Elon Musk the manager. For a long time, Musk has commanded respect as a prolific tech founder who many believe is advancing humanity. If his leadership is a bit brutal — even outrageous — many feel it can be forgiven because of the overwhelming importance of Tesla and SpaceX’s missions. Musk has drawn a comparison between his work and philanthropy, saying that it is important to send humans to Mars so that “Expand the light of consciousness.,
The larger-than-life vision of Musk and his companies has often attracted people to work for him. But, as some of his SpaceX employees have made clear, his recent conduct and the scandal that followed are detrimental to that mission. As Musk becomes increasingly divisive on Twitter, a communications platform he wants to own, how can his employees continue to separate the two individuals — the social media celebrity and the CEO — and do their jobs without PR distractions. Are? It looks like some of Musk’s employees are grappling with this question now.
Musk’s employees on Twitter are already wary of their future boss. In a virtual meeting with Twitter employees last Thursday, Musk wouldn’t rule out the possibility of layoffs following the acquisition. A video of internal slack messages from employees critical of Musk during the meeting was also leaked to Twitter, with no name changed. musk Responded on Twitter on the leak With one word: “interesting.”