SpaceX employees are reportedly circulating an open letter calling Elon Musk’s behavior a “distraction and embarrassment” to the company — and calling on executives to publicly distance the rocket maker from its founder and CEO.
The disgruntled employees say they were compelled to draft the letter to SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell following reports of a sexual misconduct allegation against Musk, which the mogul has publicly downplayed and used as fodder for jokes.
“In light of recent allegations against our CEO and his public disparagement of the situation, we would like to deliver feedback on how these events affect our company’s reputation, and through it, our mission,” reads a copy of the letter published by The Verge on Thursday. “Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks.”
The letter, which was reportedly circulated in an internal SpaceX Microsoft Teams channel, claims to have been authored by “employees across the spectra of gender, ethnicity, seniority, and technical roles.”
“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,” the letter notes. “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, which was valued at $125 billion in March, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Musk often weighs in on news stories through Twitter but has not responded to reports about the SpaceX letter.
The letter comes weeks after Insider reported that Musk paid a flight attendant on SpaceX’s company plane $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim. Musk was accused of rubbing the women’s leg without permission and offering to buy her a horse if she gave him an erotic massage.
Musk did not deny the payment but said the accusations were “utterly untrue” and called the story “a politically motivated hit piece.” He subsequently quipped about the accusation on Twitter, including by making a penis joke.
News of the letter emerged on the same day that Musk is expected to address employees of Twitter as he continues his bid to take over the company. Twitter employees have expressed anxiety about Musk’s management style and political beliefs.
It’s unclear exactly how many SpaceX employees have signed the letter. The Verge reported that it had been posted in a Microsoft Teams channel with more than 2,600 employees on Wednesday with a request that employees sign it either anonymously or publicly. Petitioners then plan to deliver a signed version of the letter to Shotwell, according to the outlet.
The letter argues that “recent events” involving the company are “emblematic of a wider culture that underserves many of the people who enable SpaceX’s extraordinary accomplishments.” It says that SpaceX’s “No A–hole” and “Zero Tolerance” policies need to be equally applied across the company.
The signatories want SpaceX executives to “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior.”
“We care deeply about SpaceX’s mission to make humanity multiplanetary,” the letter reads. “Is the culture we are fostering now the one which we aim to bring to Mars and beyond?”