Elon Musk is an “embarrassment for us,” SpaceX employees say in open letter

In a note that made the rounds inside the company, employees basically begged Musk to log off.

CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk speaks at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing "Cyber Rodeo" grand openi...
SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Impact

There are a lot of obstacles to extending humanity’s reach to Mars, which is the primary goal of SpaceX. One of the biggest, apparently, is dealing with the CEO’s very bad tweets. According to a report from The Verge, employees at the company have started writing an open letter that will decry Elon Musk’s use of Twitter as a distraction and embarrassment — which are probably among the nicest things that could be said about his online presence at this point.

The draft of the letter, which is reportedly circulating within the company’s internal chat system, seems like it will amount to a formal request for Musk to log off and touch grass. The Verge reports that employees feel like the CEO’s actions are reflecting poorly on them and is starting to hurt both their ability to do their work and recruit new talent.

“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” the letter states, per The Verge. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX — every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company. It is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission, or our values.”

SpaceX has a well-publicized “no asshole” policy. Company president Gwynne Shotwell has described “assholes” as people who “interrupt others, they shut down or co-opt conversation, and they create a hostile environment where no one wants to contribute." She also said the policy encourages people to “listen harder, not talk louder” and to “embrace the ideas of your fellow workers, especially when they differ greatly from yours.”

It seems that SpaceX employees believe their boss is in violation of this rule.

Musk has a history of firing people for disagreeing with him. Despite his insistence that free speech is tantamount and it’s important for people to hear opposing views, he spends most of his time on Twitter responding to superfans and sycophants who exclusively praise him. Now it is his behavior within that echo chamber — where he posts mediocre memes and fires off garbage tweets without any real consequence — that has him taking heat from employees.

In the letter, which has been signed by staffers across the company and will be sent to Shotwell, employees ask the company to condemn Musk’s behavior on Twitter, distance itself from his personal brand, and better define what the company’s so-called “no asshole” policy actually means. From the looks of it, they’d like it to mean acting like Elon Musk.