Hacker News Re-Imagined

SpaceX said to fire employees involved in letter rebuking Elon Musk

  • 614 points
  • 19 days ago

  • @danso
  • Created a post

SpaceX said to fire employees involved in letter rebuking Elon Musk


@tomohawk 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

"distraction and embarrassment"

That was the accusation by the former employees, but that seems more like projection. The small gang behind this is an embarrassment and causing distraction, and little else.

These 5 or so clowns also:

> made other staff feel "uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views.

https://www.reuters.com/technology/spacex-fires-employees-in...

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@nsxwolf 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

I can't imagine trashing my CEO and expecting to keep my job. Maybe that's a Gen-X thing?

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@beardyw 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Has the title changed? For me it says

"SpaceX fires employees who wrote letter slamming Musk’s “embarrassing” behavior"

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@thepasswordis 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Good. According to Shotwells response they were basically harassing the rest of the staff and trying to get them to turn on the company.

Fire them immediately. Name and shame them so that they have to explain this behavior to their next employer. This type of thing is so toxic and so abusive to everybody they try to suck into it.

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@pardesi 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

I am amazed by so many who are defending Musk for his actions. I hope they would consider working for him in one of his companies & enjoy a life of subordinateship. Afterall Musk needs such workers - smart, hard working & yet someone who doesnt question him. I think dictator is the nearest term for it in the dictionary?

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@jackmott42 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Elon's behavior has gotten so erratic and gross in the last year that I'm done defending him, I am now embarrassed to own a Tesla, and now no longer want to work at SpaceX one day.

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@a-dub 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

i uninstalled twitter off my phone to stop the elon musk notifications. i guess i'll miss out on his future crowdsource pump and dumps, but that's pretty sketch anyhow.

i have a lot of respect for tesla and what they've done, i'll be able to maintain that respect with the tweets squelched.

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@wnkrshm 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

I understand that drama like that can't be easily tolerated in a company but if it's the owner causing drama all the time I also get the frustration of the people taking part.

I wonder whether this could have worked in a publically traded company with a board - someone who could try to rein in Musk but the hierarchy doesn't work this way here.

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@Aeolun 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Damn, SpaceX sounds like a company I would never want to work for. What a horrible atmosphere. Who wants to be bullied by people that do not understand the irony of calling the sending of that open letter as distracting.

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@cafard 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

If you publicly embarrass your employer, you will in many cases be fired: see James Damore, Juan Williams, etc. It may seem slightly unfair that Elon Musk is allowed to embarrass Elon Musk, mostly with impunity, but that's the way it goes.

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@zenlf 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

> “Blanketing thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and fill out unsponsored surveys during the work day is not acceptable,” she said.

If this were true, I don’t see a problem here. This is harassment

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@kenneth 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

I am personally thrilled to see a company stand up to cancel culture and political employee activism. The ridiculous non-work related distractions from employee on various political crusades we've been seeing at many companies like Google are one of the things ruining Silicon Valley. It's nice to see Elon not allowing it at his companies, and Coinbase in being another standout against this silliness.

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@lprd 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Good. The organizers are free to leave the company if they aren't comfortable with the leadership, or disagree with the company's direction. I'm not sure why this is getting so much coverage in the first place. Employees have been fired for less at places like Google.

The amount of much coverage Musk is getting these days is crazy. His stance on free speech and the advent of his Twitter purchase seemed to amplify disdain from certain groups. I'm no Musk fanboy, but I find that really interesting.

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@ctvo 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

SpaceX now has an MO: Protect Elon at all costs.

250,000 USD paid to keep a corporate jet flight attendant quiet about alleged sexual harassment by Elon and now the immediate firing of employees asking the company to clarify Elon's views don't reflect SpaceX's views or its culture. There can't even be a hint of criticism of Elon.

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@stmfreak 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

I am so glad to see this rational response to the woke mind virus at work.

Politicize and campaign on your own time. I’ve had to keep my mouth shut at work for decades. Time the fanatical left learn the same.

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@rootusrootus 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

This is entirely predictable, and they should have expected it. But it does not mean that Musk isn't an asshole for having them all fired.

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@sashu123 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Glad to finally see a CEO acting like a monarch and not a pathetic wimp. We need more such companies to restore order in the society

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@andy_ppp 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Sounds like SpaceX employees should get a Union to protect all staff if they want to stand up to the boss.

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@pcmoney 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

You are paid to work and solve problems not create problems and harass colleagues.

If you feel it is worth it to risk your career on a letter do not spend one second of company time on it and do not use a single bit of company technology.

Honestly sick of these Prima Donna employees who think they can LARP as activists on company time and equipment.

If it is that important to "speak truth to power" do it on your own time.

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@bitwize 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

My parents ran a small factory in the 1970s. One of their employees was a hippie who kept ranting about how they were a part of "the system". About him they said "We had to fire that guy" because his attitude toward his employers indicated he couldn't be relied on to do the job that was asked of him.

Elon Musk can make a grade-A ass of himself, but within the bounds of the law to work for him is to serve at his pleasure. Complaining about him and NOT expecting the potential axe is madness.

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@neonsunset 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Considering Elon's modus operandi "Does it help to set up a colony on Mars?" the course of action was predictable.

I also welcome left-leaning people to research hardline right to have a reality check and realize he's taking pretty centrist stance.

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@traveler01 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

How they didn't see that coming it's astonishing.

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@refurb 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

I mean if I wrote a letter criticizing my CEO and made it public or just widespread in the company I’d expect to be fired?

Typically there are channels to voice criticism internally within a company that don’t involve public statements.

And if the answer back is “we disagree with your criticism” I mean the options are: 1) drop it or 2) leave.

As the economy falters we’re going to see a lot less coddling of employee behavior that undermines the business itself.

I mean Google put up with their own employees complaining publicly about their customers. That wouldn’t fly in any other company.

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@taylodl 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

I thought Elon Musk was being hailed as the champion of "free speech?" Hmmm. Maybe not.

Regardless of what people say their actions always betray them. I have no idea why people idolize Elon Musk when he has repeatedly shown us what he is. Then again the same is true for Donald Trump. I honestly don't understand it.

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@woojoo666 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Sounds like these employees were really pushing it.

> The letter upset many staffers, Ms. Shotwell [SpaceX's President] said, saying they felt pressure to “sign onto something that did not reflect their views.”

> “We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism,” she said in the email.

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@iammjm 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

The dude claiming to be a "free speech absolutist" fires people who said something about him he doesn't like... yikes. Musk is slowly turning into a Mad King

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@mc32 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

I mean, this whole bruhaha was spearheaded by five (5!) people. Articles were presenting this as if it had been representative of a larger portion of the workforce there. I think companies are realizing "activist" workers are a disruption that suck productivity from a company and are taking steps to dial that down, including progressive stalwarts like Netflix.

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@sk8terboi 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

They need critical race theory training at spacex. That would solve this.

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@garg 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

The employees specifically criticized Musk as being a 'distraction' due to his recent antics, and now they're being fired for not 'staying focused'

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@atlgator 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. Maybe it does and we just don't hear about it. Free speech does not exist within the confines of employment, and there's a big difference between speaking truth to power and inciting mutiny or rebellion. Musk has absolute control of SpaceX, and if employees do not agree with his policies, views, or anything else they need to vote with their feet and quit. Same for any other employer as most of the F100 are becoming increasingly political. Work for a company that aligns with your values if that is important to you.

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@thepasswordis 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

What’s so funny about these types of stories is that they’re always about the response to some action, and not the action itself.

What is Elon doing in public that’s so bad, exactly? He’s against authoritarian governments? The horror!

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@JaceLightning 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Surprising, but good.

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@Abroszka 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Of course they were fired. It's a dictatorship, you do what they tell you and work. There is no point getting this involved with the company, it never pays off. Work as little as possible to maximise your gains, and invest in other aspects of your life.

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@gigatexal 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Here’s hoping TSLA shares drop from 6-700 to 200 just because Musk is an ahole

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@rossdavidh 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

I'm picturing Apple employees writing an open letter criticizing Steve Jobs and saying they don't want him to be the face of the company, or Amazon employees saying they don't want Jeff Bezos to be the image of the company, or GE employees saying they don't want Jack Welch to be tarnishing the brand of the company, or...just about any other big corporation. The CEO's job involves, among other things, being the public face of the company. If you don't think the CEO is doing their job well, you leave the company, or hunker down and shut up about it.

There are people who can fire the CEO if they think he's damaging the company's reputation. They called the "board of directors". If you're not on the board of directors, the way you register displeasure with your CEO is to leave the company.

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@dboreham 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

We should probably read the letter then.

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@j_walter 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Based on what management said it wasn't necessarily what was in the letter, but the behavior surrounding the formation of the letter and soliciting people to sign it. Basically they were fired for using company resources for personal use and intimidation of their peers.

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@bgentry 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣



@solardev 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

The actual letter, published by The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/2022/6/16/23170228/spacex-elon-musk...

=====================

An open letter to the Executives of SpaceX,

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. Employees across the spectra of gender, ethnicity, seniority, and technical roles have collaborated on this letter. We feel it is imperative to maintain honest and open dialogue with each other to effectively reach our company’s primary goals together: making SpaceX a great place to work for all, and making humans a multiplanetary species.

As SpaceX employees we are expected to challenge established processes, rapidly innovate to solve complex problems as a team, and use failures as learning opportunities. Commitment to these ideals is fundamental to our identity and is core to how we have redefined our industry. But for all our technical achievements, SpaceX fails to apply these principles to the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion with equal priority across the company, resulting in a workplace culture that remains firmly rooted in the status quo.

Individuals and groups of employees at SpaceX have spent significant effort beyond their technical scope to make the company a more inclusive space via conference recruiting, open forums, feedback to leadership, outreach, and more. However, we feel an unequal burden to carry this effort as the company has not applied appropriate urgency and resources to the problem in a manner consistent with our approach to critical path technical projects. To be clear: recent events are not isolated incidents; they are emblematic of a wider culture that underserves many of the people who enable SpaceX’s extraordinary accomplishments. As industry leaders, we bear unique responsibility to address this.

Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks. 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’s current systems and culture do not live up to its stated values, as many employees continue to experience unequal enforcement of our oft-repeated “No Asshole” and “Zero Tolerance” policies. This must change. As a starting point, we are putting forth the following categories of action items, the specifics of which we would like to discuss in person with the executive team within a month:

Publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior. SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.

Hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a great place to work for everyone. Apply a critical eye to issues that prevent employees from fully performing their jobs and meeting their potential, pursuing specific and enduring actions that are well resourced, transparent, and treated with the same rigor and urgency as establishing flight rationale after a hardware anomaly.

Define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior. Clearly define what exactly is intended by SpaceX’s “no-asshole” and “zero tolerance” policies and enforce them consistently. SpaceX must establish safe avenues for reporting and uphold clear repercussions for all unacceptable behavior, whether from the CEO or an employee starting their first day.

We care deeply about SpaceX’s mission to make humanity multiplanetary. But more importantly, we care about each other. The collaboration we need to make life multiplanetary is incompatible with a culture that treats employees as consumable resources. Our unique position requires us to consider how our actions today will shape the experiences of individuals beyond our planet. Is the culture we are fostering now the one which we aim to bring to Mars and beyond?

We have made strides in that direction, but there is so much more to accomplish.

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@bshoemaker 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Free speech for me but not for thee.

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@qsdf38100 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Freedom of speech isn’t Freedom from consequences… Sure. Now musk isn’t known for being accountable nor responsible.

He doesn’t seem to like being held accountable for his shady tweets too much, does he?

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@rg111 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Musk talked so much about "free speech" in recent times!

This move is embarrassing.

You can't just fire people for criticism.

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@neonate 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣



@more_corn 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Firing people for speaking out against the boss’s childish public behavior. What message does that send? Don’t speak out about things you disagree with?

This is not the company we want taking us to Mars.

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@not2b 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Just shows that Musk has no actual interest in free speech. But SpaceX is a private company and is free to fire employees for their speech, you say. That's true, they can legally do that, since there's no union contract, but Twitter is also a private company and free not to publish speech that advocates the overthrow of the government or vaccine denial. My prediction is that a Musk-owned Twitter will wind up banning posts or even accounts for criticizing Musk too aggressively, since the guy has thin skin and will have the power.

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@curiousgal 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Well if their aim was to eventually not work for an asshole then I guess mission complete?

I always find these collective actions strange. Like you if you want to change anything from the inside your only option is to (try to) unionize, anything else is pointless.

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@ReptileMan 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

That's the way to deal with crybullies.

The intercept had amazing article lately about how this attitude tears organizations apart.

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@chasing 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

This is why your CEO shouldn't be spending his days on Twitter bleating out college freshman-level hot takes on "freedom of speech." Right or wrong, this sort of thing will become like catnip and make everybody look ridiculous.

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@yellow_lead 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

I can't imagine working for a company where the CEO shows such a public display of ignorance. If it's in private, at least it's not as embarrassing.

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@0xmohit 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Musk believes in "free speech". So he decided to set them "free".

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@jfengel 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

I've owned TSLA stock for over a decade, and I believe in the company, but I find Musk increasingly distasteful. If I had sold the last time it was over $1,000... of course that's the silly wishful thinking we all do in a contraction/correction, but goddamn, I want him out of my life.

I've already sold some of it, just to assuage my conscience a little (as well as lock in some of my profits). The next good opportunity to get out, I will, regardless of my belief that the company could well be worth $2,000 a share. It's just not worth being associated with such a terrible human being.

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@macinjosh 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

I tend to like Elon or at least some of his professed ideas and goals but this is gross. Either there is a culture in his companies where people like this are fired without discussion or prodding or it was a direct instruction.

I wonder if these employees tried any internal avenues to voice their concerns before going open with it? If not, it seems more like grand-standing and the firings are more acceptable. But if internal discussions were ignored this is out of line.

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@Denvercoder9 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

> We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism.

This seems like a funny statement to make when your CEO is literally out buying Twitter.

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@jmyeet 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

I'm really starting to wonder if 2022 won't be looked back as the year that Elon finally jumped the shark.

A lot of people (myself included) really respect SpaceX and I think that's the last pillar on which Elon's reputation stands. Tesla honestly isn't that interesting and there's a real chance it gets eaten alive as other car manufacturers have caught up. The Cybertruck is still vaporware whereas the F150 Lightning is real and, from what I've seen at least, very highly regarded.

What I think is finally giving people Elon fatigue is his politics. The Twitter acquisition is deeply tied to that. He's just another rich cringe conservative. That's it. Coming out and supporting DeSantis, for example, should surprise literally no one.

He has a very thin skin (remember the whole "pedo guy" incident?), inflates his own accomplishments (eg claiming he founded Tesla) and honestly just comes off (now more than ever) as just an awful human being.

Stories I've heard seem to reflect that SpaceX and Tesla aren't great places to work (at least compared to big tech companies).

I really get the sense that people are increasingly getting sick of hearing from or about him. YMMV.

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@bobobob420 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

"The letter called the billionaire’s public behavior and tweeting “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment” and asked the company to rein him in"

Lmao thats pretty funny tbh. Employees should be allowed to say what they want but the firing was to be expected and maybe some of the employees learned unfortunately they do not have the power they thought they had.

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@floatinglotus 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Today is Friday, therefore Musk has changed his mind yet again.

We are no longer fans of free speech.

Stay tuned for daily updates.

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@notSupplied 16 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

The comparison to "cancelling" is coming up a lot, but I think this is a reasonably simple way to distinguish the two:

Employment requires sustained two-way consent. An employer should not have to pay someone money only to have that person make their lives more difficult than otherwise. Just as an employee should be free to quit a company whose goals they find disagreeable.

Cancelling is when a 3rd party comes into an otherwise consensual employer-employee relationship (or publisher-author relationship, really any business relationship) and demanding that to end.

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@avl999 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Musk is a total snowflake who cosplays as some sort of defender of free speech.

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@dqpb 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Ah, the ever present amusement of action and consequence.

If you criticize your employer, expect to get fired. Just got fired? What do you care, you don’t like your employer anyway. Just fired everyone smart enough to criticize you? Enjoy your dwindling years with the team of incompetent cronies.

This is a perfect snapshot of the human condition.

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@nocoolnametom 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Musk may end up being the most influential person to:

1. Electrify our vehicular infrastructure

2. Get humans to the Moon, if not to Mars

3. Accelerate the unionization of Silicon Valley tech workers

His approach to remote-vs-in-office work is less that of a data-informed futurist and more that of an autocrat. Just as he's loudly supporting public free speech as long as it's his speech, I predict within a few months of taking over Twitter (assuming he doesn't just eat the penalties for dropping out of the agreement) he'll be loudly proclaiming his support of democracy as long as it's not within his companies.

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@kofejnik 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

tbh I'd kill for a chance to work at SpaceX, no matter what Elon does or twits (unless he hurts puppies obv)

Elon is free to do whatever, he's a grown man, and as another grown man, I am not bothered. If you're embarrassed to work for him, just quit.

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@pvaldes 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

To put things in context, the astonishing amount of five employees were fired. And more than 9400 employees weren't fired.

It sounds like most Space X employees are doing fine. And we are talking about an example of "soviet management" here?

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@trident5000 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

And the sky is blue

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@eric4smith 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Good. Why do people keep being activists in the workplace for this kind of issue.

I could understand if it’s bad working conditions or discrimination.

But bruh.

People need to grow up and do work at work then be activists outside of work.

Good step by SpaceX

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@freewizard 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Travis Kalanick visited a bar with escort services with female employee presence, and he resigned in 2017. Elon Musk exposed himself and propositioned a female employee for sex, he keeps his job in 2022.[1]

I feel sorry for the progress of gender equality in Silicon Valley.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/spacex-paid-250000-to-a-flig...

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@karaterobot 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

The contents of the letter quoted in that article are all moral allegations, but not new ones, and not presenting novel evidence of any wrongdoing. Whatever Musk has done, or whatever kind of person he is, it's all well understood and settled from a business perspective. Despite his antics, Musk hasn't gotten fired — far from it — and won't get fired for old news. So, their letter (at least what's quoted in that article) amounts to: "yes, but the CEO's behavior is not to our liking, somebody should do something about it." What would possess someone to believe that would work? It feels like the kind of thing that, ironically, might work on Twitter, but not in the real world.

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@yieldcrv 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Ouch given that there were some valid proposals

But also valid if people felt pressures to join in on employee activism they don't care about, I’ve seen that trend and I’m totally find curb stomping that whole mentality. I can empathize with the lack of employee power in the US that could lead one to these outcomes, there are other ways (that may not be available to those employees or in the US at all)

For Shotwell, I still think it is disingenuous to suggest there aren't other daily distractions people don't get fired for

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@SylvieLorxu 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Was this the "free speech" dude?

Same dude as this? https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/03/elon-musk...

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@ajaimk 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Is this retaliation?

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@alkonaut 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Does Elon Musk always ask himself “ok what’s the most petty/childish/immature response I can produce for this situation?”

I’m not sure what’s actually wrong with him or if it’s at all clinical or just the billionaire disease of being surrounded by people who agree with you for too long. But I get a feeling there is something a bit off with his behavior and/or mental health, and that it’s been getting worse lately. I also don’t know if this shift is subjective and merely because I see more of him now than before. But I can’t help thinking that now he seems like a massive asshat in nearly every single human interaction whereas before he had some kind of likability.

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@Clent 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

This company survives on public funding via NASA. This may be the biggest gift they could have given to their competitors.

No one will care if their competitors have similar issues, SpaceX was sold as different and the illusion of that is fading.

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@theklr 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

I wonder if these now fired employees can get some talks with one of SpaceX’s employers, NASA.

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@FooBarBizBazz 18 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Why does this shit never happen at Philip Morris, Smith & Wesson, or ExxonMobil?

If Elon just watched his mouth he could import fentanyl and nobody would complain.

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@aaronsimpson 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

The amount of Elon charity in this comment section is kind of insane:

> In an email, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, said the letter had made other employees “feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied.”

It's literally the same thing wokescolds do when somebody says anything they disagree with, only this time it's SpaceX and Elon Musk. There's not really any good argument for somebody who claims to care about free speech.

"It's a private company. They can fire whoever they want so long as it's not a protected class." And Twitter is a private company that can ban anybody they want. Don't like it? Go to Mastodon. Usually this argument doesn't fly for the people that defend his Twitter free speech position.

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@stillbourne 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

For being such a huge proponent of free speech he sure seems to hate it when people talk.

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@formerkrogemp 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

When Musk started to spread his bullshit on Twitter, I immediately thought about how the high-profile engineers working for Tesla, SpaceX, etc, would feel about that. My friend works in a tech company composed of 90% engineers, although not that high-profile, still if a CEO would publicly voice all that crap, I’m sure many would seriously consider resigning. In the end, it’s not that difficult to find another job.

If I were a tech company recruiter now, I would 100% go shopping for musk companies’ employees right now…

As a recruiter, you could seriously poach some amazing talent just because Elon can’t keep his fucking mouth shut. They aren’t idiots over there, and Elon should realize that most of the people working for him are likely much, much, much smarter than he is.

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@gm3dmo 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Champion of free speech only goes so far eh?

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@etchalon 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

It seems like every "diversity of thought!" and "freedom of speech!" proponent keeps having a moment where it's revealed that isn't what they actually believe.

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@arooni 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

If you come for the king, you had better not miss.

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@ceejayoz 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

"Stay focused" is a little funny from the guy behind the SpaceX flamethrower, Neuralink, OpenAI, the Boring Company, and a $40B attempt to buy Twitter.

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@throwaway5752 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

SpaceX leadership is clearly within their legal rights to fire these people, but the classic "CAN vs SHOULD" principle is important. The letter, which is pretty benign, is available at the bottom of https://www.theverge.com/2022/6/16/23170228/spacex-elon-musk...

The letter is insubordination, it is fireable, and the employees that wrote it are also correct. Elon Musk would likely get fired for his behavior if he were a different executive - certainly disciplined - and that's a problem for SpaceX (and Tesla, and Twitter). It makes it seem like he's not accountable to anyone. Steve Jobs would not have done behaved this way publicly, nor would any other singular founder/execs I can think of at his level.

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@guerrilla 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Seems pretty consistent. He's big into pretending to be for freedom of speech and never being for it if it ever actually matters. I see a lot of people here saying any billionaire boss would do the same, well, yes, that's the point, but the thing is that he very consistently and incessantly lies about not being like those "other" people and being for principles that he has never once stood for in reality. I don't recall Steve Jobs blathering about "free speech" on podcats and Twitter.

[edit] p.s. Did anyone read the comments here before posting? It's just the same comments over and over and over and over again, wtf is this shit. Can't we do better?

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@99_00 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

>Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks.

What happened in recent weeks?

The letter is condemnation by innuendo. They don't say exactly why they want Musk removed and only hint at it and make general statements.

An advantage of that approach is that it is difficult for the accused to defend themselves. The disadvantage is that if the accused has power they can squash this and the accusers are exposed because vague accusations are difficult to justify as they are to defend against.

I suspect they don't say why they want Musk removed because their reasons stated clearly and directly would be unpalatable. I think the reason they want him removed is because he expressed support for the Republican party. In the USA, in many circles, it is still unacceptable to condemn people based on political affiliation.

It is however, more acceptable to use innuendo about racial and sexual rights as a weapon for indirect political persecution.

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@bell-cot 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Ignore all the employment rules lawyering, and "Elon is for free speech..." / "SpaceX's mission says...", etc. arguments. This is not a computer program, nor a debating society.

Humans, especially most top corporate executives, are definitely primates. Some lower-down members of the SpaceX troop issued (de facto) a very clear and public challenge to the dominance of the troop's alpha macho male 900# gorilla. They failed to get a chorus of overwhelming support from other members of the troop. They don't appear to have any serious 900# backers from outside the troop.

Can anyone give an example of such a situation ending well for the challengers?

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@vhiremath4 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

FYI - arstechnica thread also here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31774890

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@axg11 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

This is a very predictable consequence of criticizing your employer via a public letter. Criticize internally all you want, and influence the changes that you want to see happen. Employment is a two-way relationship. If you don't like your employer, you are free to leave. If they don't like you, they are free to fire you (within legal bounds). Publishing an openly critical letter and signing it is a quick way to get your employer to not like you.

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@magicroot75 15 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Musk believed he needed to compel people back into the office to get what he wanted. These employees believed it was worth it to speak out. Both parties were capable of understanding the consequences of their speech. And none of those consequences were unethical or or even disproportionate to their cause. I'm not sure there's even anything to talk about here. There's no right or wrong to people's preferences for their workers' jobsite presence. And there's no right or wrong to public disagreement. In fact, this is a public market disagreement that will happen for years to come.

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@dshpala 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

The open letter wanted to “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior”.

It's only a small step until these activists start demanding similar things regarding random public people they don't like. Like DeSantis. Surely any sane leadership would condemn DeSantis' harmful behavior?

I hope firings will continue until this kind of activism subsides.

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@kspacewalk2 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

>The letter asked SpaceX management to publicly separate the company from Mr. Musk’s personal brand.

This is not realistic. It will not happen. Elon Musk is the founder, chairman, CEO and CTO. He owns 47% of the company and 78% of voting control.

A company you work for is not a democracy. You are not an owner. You don't get to call out, to make governance decisions, to create pressure campaigns, etc. This is doubly true for privately held companies. It would be truly bizarre if these employees weren't fired for this wannabe activism routine.

In short, go launch your own damn satellites.

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@mr90210 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Elon is becoming a joke. For a person who had such a big vision, he surely appears to spend too much time voicing himself on Twitter, thus exposing his less good thoughts (which we all have).

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@kerblang 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

One of the demands from the letter:

    > Define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior. Clearly define what exactly is intended by SpaceX’s “no-asshole” and “zero tolerance” policies and enforce them consistently.
    
That's exactly the problem with companies that like to brag about their "we-don't-allow-jerks-here" culture: It's arbitrary. If you focus on creating a culture of objectivity, facts and honesty, you'll solve most of your jerk problems without having to figure out what "jerk" means.

Given as much, if this is really about Mr Musk's political endorsements, folks need to get over it. But inasmuch as he embraces dishonesty (one example: the "pedo" incident from way back) then I'd agree that the company should discipline him.

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@keremkacel 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Isn't this against some non-retaliation laws?

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@numair 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

The most disgusting fact I learned in this article is that Shotwell personally backed Musk on denying claims he sexually harassed the flight attended. What?

Anyone who knows these people and their friends knows that the situation as described in the media was not out of the realm of possibility. Unless Shotwell, COO of SpaceX, was on that plane and witnessed exactly what happened, she is not qualified to assist in burying someone’s totally insane traumatic experience.

My fellow HN readers, the space startup scene is growing fast. Don’t work for a CEO/COO that is willing to throw any and everyone else under the bus to ensure they can continue to collect their own multi-billion dollar paycheck for “making the world more connected.” This has shades of Sheryl Sandberg all over it — and we know how that worked out for society.

The government needs to work harder to build competition against these people, and regulators need to be a lot more careful about allowing them to blast all of their crap into space.

I would guess we are a few years away from some former SpaceX employees with exit liquidity revealing the dirty truth as a means of handling their own PTSD.

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@daenz 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

>The letter asked SpaceX management to publicly separate the company from Mr. Musk’s personal brand, and to take steps to address what it said was a gap between SpaceX’s stated values and its current systems and company culture.

>“Blanketing thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and fill out unsponsored surveys during the work day is not acceptable,”

So it was a mass internal email chain, using company resources? And it sounds like they were asking Musk to be gone, with plausibly deniability. Is it honestly any surprise that they got fired? Hijacking internal systems for a publicity stunt like this will always put a target on your back.

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@uejfiweun 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Here's my unpopular opinion - good riddance. It's not a free speech issue because SpaceX isn't a public square. It's a company, and companies are top down. If these employees are at Musk's company, then they had better be prepared to play by Musk's rules, and they did the exact opposite, essentially leading a mutiny against the boss and sowing discord within the company in the process. SpaceX isn't an activist organization and has no obligation to kowtow to the demands of internal activists. Not all companies are like this, but again, you should know what you're signing up for when you join a Musk company.

And I'd also be willing to bet cash that all these employees were very low level, likely new hires out of college, and are all of the political activist type. Because for all his bluster, Musk really hasn't done anything THAT objectionable besides openly shit on Democrats. (No, I don't believe the bogus sexual assault allegation from an anonymous friend of a friend, there's no evidence).

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@jiveturkey 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

It's a fair criticism, albeit written with an entitled flavor.

Where these 5 employees went wrong was in writing it as an internal memo, and attempting to rouse the rabble. That's clearly unacceptable and they misjudged how swift and certain the reaction would be. I do wonder what they were expecting.

Where they went wrong was by posting their criticism as an internal memo using internal resources. They should have taken to twitter.

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@daheza 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Really soldified my stance that I should never work for a company where Musk is involved.

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@cratermoon 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Because of course they did. Elon is that kind of boss.

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@squarefoot 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

At every place I've worked at there were rules on the contract I signed that forbade me to engage in any activity that could be detrimental to the company public image, and I'm sure SpaceX contracts contain such clause too, so technically they can fire those people, but doing so at first strike and without warnings is pure evil and is the sign of just another company in which executives live in a different universe than their workers.

> Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, said the letter had made other employees “feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied.”

This is absolute bollocks. Feeling intimidated and bullied because some colleagues criticized the CEO? Come on...

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@mike10921 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

I have worked at companies where I was entirely in disagreement with the senior staff's political views. I never sent any letters or complained about it. We had a great relationship. My job was to provide value to the company while their job was to pay me for my job. If I felt it was too much for me to listen to their political views I always had the choice to leave.

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@toomanyrichies 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

To those arguing that this letter is tantamount to insubordination and is therefore a fireable offense:

“Insubordination (noun)- refusing to obey orders from someone in authority.” [1]

Unless they had received direct orders not to criticize Musk at all, internally or externally, they are not guilty of refusing to obey orders. And if they had received such orders, that only adds to Musk’s burgeoning reputation for pettiness and immaturity, in which case these are the kinds of orders one could be forgiven for disobeying.

The whole point of the letter seems to have been “Musk’s behavior is detrimental to the company.” This implies that they care about the company and want it to succeed, and that their loyalty lies with it, not with Musk. As well it should. Tesla, SpaceX, etc are (or should be) companies, not cults.

1. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/insub...

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@anothernewdude 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

> In an email, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, said the letter had made other employees “feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied.”

I don't think that was the letter, I think that was the firing.

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@Gatsky 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Anecdotally companies run by obvious assholes (eg Ellison and Oracle) or that engage in obviously bad behaviour (eg Big Tobacco) don’t have these problems. I guess their reputations filter out the type of employee who would do what was done at SpaceX.

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@wewtyflakes 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

ITT: A lot of temporarily embarrassed billionaires.

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@mysore 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

seems kinda hypocritical. would be scared to go to mars with this guy.

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@sbf501 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

I know most of HN wasn't even born when this happened, but from 1990 onwards, Jerry Sanders III, the then-CEO (& founder) of AMD created a similar schism in his company. A the time he was presiding over an industry that was seen as disrupter-AMD taking on villain-Intel.

Sanders always had a giant ego and a lust of showing off and thumping his chest. We all took this with an eyeroll, well, some of us did. At one point it was too much, had a bunch of internal promotional posters and flyers made depicting himself as a buff Indian Jones whipping Intel, while his playboy-bunny wife looked on longingly at her hero.

Many AMD employees literally saw him as a muscled hero savior and themselves as victims, like Rambo-Trump photoshops of today, or the sycophantic adulation of Musk worshipers. This lead to people picking sides: Sanders had so distracted his employees with his mouth and antics by creating a schism where some people were like "knock off the rich-guy BS", while others were like, "Go get 'em!". It created a lot of internal conflict. I was only there for a while, but it was amazing how you couldn't do your job without some image of Sanders as hero being shoved in your face by some fan employee.

I can relate to the SpaceX employees, having a mercurial asshat for a boss is tedious, even if the pay is great. But AMD was floundering technologically at that time, and it wasn't until Sanders FINALLY stepped down that AMD really took Intel to task: beating them to 1 GHz and 64-bit processing. I can only imagine the brain-drain due to his asshole behavior was the problem, but that's just my $0.01.

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@wolverine876 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

> In an email, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, said the letter had made other employees “feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied.”

Whatever the situation, this is just brazen propaganda techniques. How shameful and obvious. I'm a little surprised it hasn't been called out in this discussion.

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@RickJWagner 18 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

"tells staff to avoid activism"

I can't wait until this catches on and professionalism once again rules the workplace. Activism in the workplace is divisive and tiring.

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@WalterBright 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

In my younger and stupider days, I made some ill considered criticisms of my boss. I was lucky I wasn't fired on the spot.

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@tim333 17 days

Replying to @danso 🎙



@chasd00 19 days

Replying to @danso 🗣

Twitter is the worst thing to happen to Musk. The social media addiction knows no class/age/wealth/religious/creed boundary. It’s like social cancer that slowly destroys your relationship to society.

Musk has done great things but these days I think he’s at his lowest point.

/I’ve said this about three times now in threads like these.

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@tlogan 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

It seems that what is happening here is that “woke” people (ultra left) working at spaceX and Tesla are finally realizing that Elon Musk is actually not part of the “woke” (ultra-left) movement but more like good old Republican.

So they are angry and they want to explain that to others. On the other hand, some people know that there is no “woke” white rich guy.

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@eggy 18 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

How would we have made it to the moon, if employees took surveys, sent letters, and posted numerous signs about their disagreement with upper management? Why do they work there then? I don't see how Elon has really changed much since 5 or 8 years ago to have fooled anyone who signed on for the company's mission. He wants to go to Mars. If he makes them uncomfortable, these people should not be in mission-critical positions, and possibly not at SpaceX.

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@blitzar 19 days

Replying to @danso 🎙

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, recently described himself as a "free speech absolutist."

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