SpaceX Layoffs Caused by 'Absolutely Insane' Projects

Founder and CEO Elon Musk explains the difference between the recent layoffs at companies Tesla and SpaceX.
Jessica Miley

As it’s been already announced by COO and President Gwynne Shotwell earlier in January, SpaceX, one of the world’s biggest start-ups is trimming its workforce by almost ten percent. 

On investors call on last Wednesday at SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s divulged some of the details for the slash.  The billionaire entrepreneur said that two ‘absolutely insane’ projects, namely Starlink and Starship can ‘bankrupt the company’ - thus the dismissal of the six hundred employees.

Two totally different cases

Mr. Musk claimed that the recent layoffs at Tesla and SpaceX are due to totally different reasons.

 A steady growth of labor force at Tesla, reaching an extensive number of forty thousand workers, resulted in unwanted duplication of some positions. That, in addition to the goal of their current project - making electric cars broadly available by the Model 3 resulted in the global restructuring.  

While in case of SpaceX, he named two of the ongoing projects of the company ‘insane’: Starlink, an enterprise to bring high-speed internet coverage via a network of satellites; and Starship, the reusable rocket aimed to travel humans to Mars and back. Musk and Shotwell announced the news at an all-hands meeting offering help for those dismissed in resume-writing as well as in job-hunting. We all hope that it won’t take long to find a new, similarly challenging job for those exceptionally well-trained people!

Visionary optimism

Mr. Musk is probably right using harsh words describing the private space company’s ventures: ‘global space-base internet and interplanetary aircraft’. He adds that this is one of the toughest industry in the world, where staying alive for a company is a triumph in itself, and, needless to say, he wants it to be profitable too.


Facing unseen challenges may sound like generic reasoning, although knowing that SpaceX is basically building a rocket from scratch (or, as Musk tweeted once, from a white sheet of paper); it is easy to imagine the amount of incalculable, hiding elements of such ambitious operations. 

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Speaking of profitability, CNBC asked COO Shotwell about SpaceX going public, due to the extreme demand for its shares worldwide, who said that it is not a question currently being on the table.

The way the company currently raises fund is project-based (‘bit by bit’) with a strong emphasis on the fact that the investors have to share the company’s vision laid out by founder and CEO Elon Musk. 

SpaceX- a space start-up, currently worth around 30 billion US dollars is in a  position to be picky about its investors. The decision of keeping a company private certainly ensures that Mr. Musk is the only one to navigate his firm. The question is if it can be a success story for not only the founder but also the employees who are using their creativity, talent, and own visionary for the company’s benefit.

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