Twitter celebrity Elon Musk is different from SpaceX and Tesla boss Musk

Elon Musk has millions of detractors — and devoted fans — nowhere more so than on Twitter. Since Musk, the world’s richest man and CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company and Neuralink, announced plans in April to buy the social media company, the debate over whether he is a genius saving the world or just a genius has intensified. A rude billionaire with a big platform. More and more people, including his own employees, are beginning to question the increasingly blurred lines between his role on Twitter and his leadership of several large companies.

Last Thursday, SpaceX reportedly fired at least five employees who participated in a letter to company executives denouncing Musk’s recent behavior — especially on Twitter, where he interacts more with right-wing politicians and pundits frequently. Musk’s Twitter activity in recent months has included posting memes aimed at Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde, contempt for accusations He sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant, and Laughing at Bill Gates’ appearanceThe letter focuses on Musk’s behavior on Twitter, where he has been increasingly critical of and his criticism of U.S. politics. He says Democrats have turned also far left.

“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere has often been distracting and embarrassing, especially in recent weeks,” the letter reads. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX — every tweet Elon sends is a de facto public statement for the company.”

The firings follow Thursday’s Verge report on the letter, the first such filing from employees to Musk to surface, and marks the most public targeting of Musk by employees at one of his companies to date. one of the concerted actions. Musk already has enormous influence, but now that he is expected to have Twitter, one of the largest social media platforms in the United States, his voice will have even more influence. It also means that his ability to influence people’s evaluation of him may also be greater. This letter from SpaceX, and the subsequent firing of the employees involved in it, shows how Musk presented himself as an individual — albeit a very public one — and how his employees felt their CEO represented or misrepresented tension between them.

One of the action items proposed by employees in the letter is to “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful behavior on Twitter” and “quickly and clearly separate himself from Elon’s personal brand.”

But the SpaceX letter isn’t just about the “personal brand” Musk has honed on Twitter. The authors of the letter argue that the behavior is “symbolic” of SpaceX’s larger cultural problems. “SpaceX’s current systems and culture have not lived up to their stated values,” the letter said. It calls on leaders to better promote a workplace culture that values ​​diversity, equity and inclusion.

Companies run by Musk face multiple allegations that they created unhealthy and even abusive work environments. Tesla investor Solomon Chau sued Tesla on Thursday in Texas, where the company is headquartered, for failing to adequately resolve allegations of workplace abuse. “Tesla created a toxic workplace culture based on racism and sexism, as well as discrimination against its own employees,” Zhou said in the lawsuit.

This follows a case in February in which California sued Tesla’s Fremont factory on racism charges. The lawsuit represents more than 4,000 former and current black employees who claim black workers are segregated in different parts of the factory. According to an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the factory has a particularly labor-intensive section, dubbed “the plantation” by Tesla workers. One black worker said they heard racial slurs as many as 50 to 100 times a day.

Musk’s company is also facing allegations of workplace sexual harassment. 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 article detailing her time at the company, where she started her internship in 2017. “I reported every incident of sexual harassment I experienced to Human Resources and no action was taken,” she wrote. “Everyone who harassed me was tolerated despite the company’s so-called intolerance and no-ass policies.”

SpaceX’s “no jerk” policy is well known. President Gwynne Shotwell boasts that the company’s zero tolerance for jerks prevents disruption, which in turn fosters innovation. An open letter drafted by employees last week claimed that, in fact, the company did not comply with the policy.

Musk himself has also been accused of abusing employees. In May, Business Insider reported an allegation that Musk sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant, exposing himself to her and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an “erotic massage.” After the report surfaced, Musk jokes on Twitter.

Now, five SpaceX employees have lost their jobs after criticizing the CEO’s leadership. SpaceX has yet to answer questions about whether Musk was directly involved in firing employees, but Musk reportedly has a history of firing critics; in book Game of Thrones: Tesla, Elon Musk and the stake of the century, author Tim Higgins reports on several instances of Musk firing his employees in moments of anger, including those who disagreed with him.Bloomberg reporter and Musk biographer Ashlee Vance quotes a SpaceX engineer in her book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the search for a better future Who said “employees were treated badly for a long time in this era.” The employee recalled that some engineers were “blamed for something they didn’t do” and fired. “The kiss of death proved Elon wrong about something,” the engineer told Vance.

The SpaceX employee letter and its aftermath further shed light on the discord between genius innovator Elon Musk and manager Elon Musk. Musk has long been respected as a brilliant tech founder who many believe is moving humanity forward. If his leadership was a little arrogant—even abusive—many seemed to think it was forgivable, given the importance of the Tesla and SpaceX missions. Musk compared his work to philanthropy and said it was important to send humans to Mars in order to “Expand the light of consciousness.

This otherworldly vision of Musk and his company often draws people to work for him. But, as some of his SpaceX employees have made clear, his recent actions, and the scandals that come with it, are not good for the mission. As Musk is increasingly divided on Twitter, the communications platform he intends to own, how can his staff continue to separate the roles of social media celebrity and CEO and do their jobs without PR distractions? That’s what some of Musk’s employees seem to be grappling with right now.

Musk’s employees at Twitter appear to be wary of their future bosses. During a virtual meeting with Twitter employees last Thursday, Musk would not deny the possibility of layoffs following the acquisition. A video of an internal Slack message from employees reacting critically to Musk during a meeting was also leaked on Twitter, without redacting names.Musk Reply to the leak on Twitter One word: “interesting”.

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