Some of the CEO’s most prominent recent critics are his employees.

Elon Musk attended the New York City Met Gala in 2022. Getty Images/Gotham

Twitter is the best place to see this., where Elon Musk has millions of detractors and devoted supporters. The argument over whether Musk is a brilliant visionary saving the world or just a sleazy billionaire with a powerful platform has heated up since he announced plans to purchase the social media company in April. Musk is the world’s richest person and the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company, and Neuralink. The distinction between his Twitter persona and his position as the CEO among many significant firms is becoming increasingly hazy, and more individuals, including his workers, have started to voice concerns about it.

Musk’s recent behavior, especially on Twitter, where he has been interacting with right-wing politicians and pundits more frequently., has prompted SpaceX to fire at least five employees last Thursday. Musk’s Twitter activity in recent months has included

  • making fun of a claim that he sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant,
  • sharing a meme that targeted Twitter CEO Vijaya Gadde, and
  • making fun of Bill Gates’ appearance.

The letter mainly addressed Musk’s conduct on Twitter, where he has become more outspoken about US politics and his critiques of the Democratic Party, which he feels has veered too far to the left.

The letter says that “Elon’s conduct in the public domain is a frequent cause of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks.” Elon is regarded as the face of SpaceX because he is its CEO and most visible speaker; every Tweet he sends serves as the organization’s de facto public message.

The terminations were brought on by a Verge post on Thursday about the letter, which is the first time a letter from employees to Musk has come to light and is one of the most well-publicized coordinated actions against Musk from workers of one of his films to date. Musk already has a sizable following, but his voice will now have much more clout given that he is likely to acquire Twitter, one of the most extensive social media networks in the US. Additionally, it suggests that he will likely have more power over how others perceive him. The SpaceX letter and the subsequent termination of the relevant staff members demonstrate the growing divide between how Musk presents himself as a person, albeit a very public one, and how his employees perceive their CEO.

Employees in the letter include “publicly confront and denounce Elon’s damaging Twitter behavior” and “swiftly and unambiguously remove itself from Elon’s brand” as a suggested action.

The SpaceX letter, however, addresses more than just Musk’s unpleasant “personal brand” on Twitter. According to the letter writers, this action was “emblematic” of a bigger organizational culture problem at SpaceX. The letter said, “SpaceX’s current systems and culture do not live up to its professed values.” It urged executives to do more to foster a work environment that values inclusion, equity, and diversity.

Musk’s businesses have been accused numerous times of generating an unhealthy or abusive work environment. In Texas, where Tesla’s headquarters are located, investor Solomon Chau filed a lawsuit against the firm on Thursday for failing to respond to the allegations of labor violations effectively. According to Chau in the lawsuit, Tesla “has established a poisonous workplace culture steeped inprejudice against its own employees on the basis of race and gender.”

Many people have chosen to work under Musk because of his companies’ wildly imaginative visions. However, his recent behavior and the following scandals damaged that aim, as some of his SpaceX colleagues made plain. How can Musk’s workers continue to distinguish between the two personas — social media celebrity and CEO — and do their work without PR interruptions as Musk becomes more contentious on Twitter, a communication channel he aspires to own? Some of Musk’s staff members appear to be struggling with that issue right now.

Twitter workers who work for Musk appear to be already wary of their potential employers. Musk wouldn’t rule out the idea of layoffs following the acquisition in a virtual conference with Twitter employees last Thursday. Additionally, a video of internal Slack communications from meeting attendees criticizing Musk was published on Twitter with no identities obscured. Musk’s one-word response to the disclosure on Twitter was “Interesting.”