Elon Musk has thousands and thousands of critics — and dedicated supporters — and nowhere is that clearer than on Twitter. Since Musk, who is the world’s richest man or woman and the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, the Dull Enterprise, and Neuralink, declared strategies in April to buy the social media company, the discussion has intensified close to irrespective of whether he’s a genius who’s preserving the environment or basically a crass billionaire with a big system. And additional persons, such as his very own employees, have begun boosting questions about the increasingly blurry line among his Twitter persona and his purpose as the chief of quite a few key corporations.
Last Thursday, SpaceX reportedly fired at least 5 staff members involved in composing a letter to corporation executives condemning Musk’s the latest conduct — specifically on Twitter, in which he has been interacting far more regularly with suitable-wing politicians and pundits. In new months, Musk’s Twitter activity has incorporated submitting a meme targeting Twitter government Vijaya Gadde, generating mild of an allegation that he had sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant, and mocking Bill Gates’s look. The letter centered on Musk’s conduct on Twitter, the place he has been significantly vocal about US politics and his criticisms of the Democratic Social gathering, which he says has swerved way too far to the left.
“Elon’s habits in the general public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and shame for us, specially in modern months,” the letter reads. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is witnessed as the confront of SpaceX — every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto general public statement by the company.”
The firings followed a Verge report on Thursday about the letter, which signifies the first time such a document from staff members to Musk has surfaced, and marks 1 of the most public concerted steps to date from Musk from personnel of 1 of his firms. Musk now has great affect, but now that he is on track to very own Twitter, just one of the major social media platforms in the US, his voice will have even greater get to. It also implies that his potential to affect what individuals say about him will likely be greater too. The SpaceX letter, and the subsequent firing of the staff members involved with it, exhibits there is a growing tension among how Musk presents himself as an unique — albeit a really public unique — and how his staff members experience represented, or misrepresented, by their CEO.
A single of the action products proposed by staff in the letter is to “publicly tackle and condemn Elon’s unsafe Twitter behavior” and “swiftly and explicitly individual alone from Elon’s private model.”
But the SpaceX letter isn’t only worried with Musk’s abrasive “personal brand” on Twitter. The letter writers contend that this habits was “emblematic” of a much larger lifestyle challenge at SpaceX. “SpaceX’s recent units and culture do not stay up to its said values,” the letter stated. It termed on leaders to far better advertise a workplace culture valuing range, equity, and inclusion.
The firms Musk runs have confronted numerous allegations of fostering an unhealthy, or even abusive, get the job done atmosphere. On Thursday, Tesla trader Solomon Chau submitted a lawsuit towards Tesla in Texas, exactly where the firm is headquartered, for failing to sufficiently tackle the claims of place of work abuses. “Tesla has designed a harmful place of work culture grounded in racist and sexist abuse and discrimination against its personal workforce,” Chau reported in the accommodate.
This follows a scenario from February in which the point out of California sued Tesla’s Fremont factory around allegations of racism. The lawsuit represented more than 4,000 former and existing Black workers who claimed that Black personnel had been segregated into independent sections of the factory. In accordance to interviews conducted by the Los Angeles Times, there was a specifically labor-intense section of the plant that was nicknamed “the plantation” by Tesla workers. One particular Black employee said that they read racial slurs as generally as 50 to 100 periods a working day.
Musk’s corporations have also confronted allegations of sexual harassment difficulties in the place of work. In 2021, 5 previous SpaceX workforce explained to The Verge they had faced or witnessed sexual harassment at the enterprise. 1 former SpaceX engineer, Ashley Kosak, published an essay detailing her working experience throughout her time at the corporation, wherever she experienced started out as an intern in 2017. “I documented every single incident of sexual harassment I professional to HR, and very little was carried out,” she wrote. “Each and each individual person who harassed me was tolerated inspite of the company’s so-termed no-tolerance and no-asshole policy.”
SpaceX’s “no asshole” coverage is nicely-regarded. President Gwynne Shotwell has boasted that the company’s zero tolerance for assholes helps prevent interruptions, which in turn boosts innovation. The open letter drafted by staff members last week claimed that, in actuality, the business did not are living up to this coverage.
Musk himself has also been accused of mistreating workforce. In Might, Small business Insider described an allegation that Musk experienced sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant, exposing himself to her and featuring to invest in her a horse in trade for an “erotic therapeutic massage.” Right after the report surfaced, Musk joked about it on Twitter.
Now, 5 SpaceX workers have lost their work opportunities right after criticizing their CEO’s management. SpaceX has not however responded to a problem on whether or not Musk was right involved in firing the workforce, but Musk has a noted historical past of firing critics in the book Power Enjoy: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century, creator Tim Higgins studies many instances of Musk firing his staff in moments of anger, together with people today who disagreed with him. Bloomberg reporter and Musk biographer Ashlee Vance quoted a SpaceX engineer in his book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Foreseeable future who reported that “the procedure of team was not fantastic for very long stretches of this era.” The employee recalled some engineers “being blamed for issues they hadn’t done” and fired. “The kiss of loss of life was proving Elon mistaken about one thing,” the engineer informed Vance.
The SpaceX personnel letter and its fallout additional reveal the dissonance in between Elon Musk the genius innovator and Elon Musk the supervisor. For a extensive time, Musk has commanded regard as a outstanding tech founder who several believe that is pushing humanity forward. If his management is a minor brash — even abusive — several appeared to imagine that can be forgiven owing to the sheer value of Tesla’s and SpaceX’s missions. Musk has drawn comparisons among his get the job done and philanthropy, and has reported that sending individuals to Mars is important in buy to “lengthen the gentle of consciousness.”
This larger-than-everyday living eyesight of Musk and his organizations has often drawn people today to perform for him. But, as some of his SpaceX workers produced distinct, his the latest carry out and the scandals that have followed are harmful to that mission. As Musk gets significantly divisive on Twitter, a communications system that he intends to possess, how can his staff members keep on to separate the two personas — social media celebrity and CEO — and do their get the job done without the need of PR interruptions? That is the dilemma some of Musk’s personnel appear to be grappling with now.
Musk’s workers at Twitter seem to by now be cautious of their upcoming boss. In a virtual conference with Twitter workers previous Thursday, Musk wouldn’t deny the risk of layoffs right after the acquisition. A video clip of interior Slack messages of staff reacting critically to Musk during the conference was also leaked on Twitter, with no names redacted. Musk replied on Twitter to the leak with just one word: “Interesting.”