Author Topic: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent  (Read 29328 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Was going around tonight. Eric's got a statement. Saying 10 percent. We've heard potentially more, but still bad for those impacted regardless of how many in total.

https://twitter.com/SciGuySpace/status/1083873374261125120

Offline EnigmaSCADA

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #1 on: 01/11/2019 11:26 pm »
Was going around tonight. Eric's got a statement. Saying 10 percent. We've heard potentially more, but still bad for those impacted regardless of how many in total.

https://twitter.com/SciGuySpace/status/1083873374261125120
Oof, that kinda thing is never good. Somewhat surprising to me considering the outside image of employees working hard/long hours, a head-spinning amount of current work/projects, and their supposed valuation. I'm as capitalist as they come but i feel that employers are all too often forgetting who got them to where they are and it will come back to bite them in one form or another. Good luck to both those that are moving on and those remaining. Gonna be a hit to the esprit de corps of even those who are not fired (lets not kid ourselves with HR speak like "laid off", "downsized", "terminated", "separated", etc, etc...)

Online spacenut

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #2 on: 01/11/2019 11:30 pm »
I've been trying to figure out what they would cut.  They could give up on fairing chasing.  They may have all their design work done on BFR/Starship and no longer need design workers.  Since they are going with stainless steel on their new rocket they could be laying off composite workers.  Hopefully this isn't bad news. 

Offline LooZ

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #3 on: 01/11/2019 11:42 pm »
It seems quite obvious to me who has been released:
- persons responsible for Dragon 2 certification;
- people working on Dragon 1 production;
- people working in the production of Falcon and Merlin (they have a huge number of them);
- part of stuff working on refurbishing F9 & D1;
- people working with Falcon 9 interior (tanks, ec), which will have nothing to do with how the SuperHeavy/StarShip will be build.

Online kkattula

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #4 on: 01/11/2019 11:42 pm »
People designing/building composite tanks and original BFS TPS seems very likely.

They've also probably locked away F9 design, and may have added people for that while moving others to SS/SH.


Also, didn't Elon suggest they'd build enough F9 cores to fly all missions until BFR comes online, then stop F9 production at some point?  Is this that time, or at least phase 1 of a production phase out?  I remember saying at the time that he was effectively betting the company on BFR...

Offline calapine

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #5 on: 01/11/2019 11:44 pm »
I've been trying to figure out what they would cut.  They could give up on fairing chasing.  They may have all their design work done on BFR/Starship and no longer need design workers.  Since they are going with stainless steel on their new rocket they could be laying off composite workers.  Hopefully this isn't bad news. 

" They may have all their design work done on BFR/Starship and no longer need design workers." Highly doubt that BFR design is anywhere near done.

My guess would be Dragon development, the production floor (F9 stages, Merlin engines) and, possibly, Starlink development.

Offline Star One

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #6 on: 01/11/2019 11:48 pm »
I've been trying to figure out what they would cut.  They could give up on fairing chasing.  They may have all their design work done on BFR/Starship and no longer need design workers.  Since they are going with stainless steel on their new rocket they could be laying off composite workers.  Hopefully this isn't bad news. 

" They may have all their design work done on BFR/Starship and no longer need design workers." Highly doubt that BFR design is anywhere near done.

My guess would be Dragon development, the production floor (F9 stages, Merlin engines) and, possibly, Starlink development.

Why would they cut Starlink when they haven’t even started putting into orbit anything beyond a few prototypes.

Online Llian Rhydderch

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #7 on: 01/11/2019 11:53 pm »
This article just up 6 minutes ago on TechCrunch:

SpaceX will lay off hundreds to ‘become a leaner company’
Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
"You would actually save yourself time and effort if you were to use evidence and logic to make your points instead of wrapping yourself in the royal mantle of authority.  The approach only works on sheep, not inquisitive, intelligent people."

Offline AC in NC

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #8 on: 01/12/2019 12:07 am »
Let's hope everyone lands in a good place and perhaps it's a good time for some talent to branch out to found startups to fill out the SpaceX-enabled ecosystem.  Lots of ancillary work needs to get started that would be somewhat of a distraction to the backbone SpaceX needs to produce

Online Dalhousie

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #9 on: 01/12/2019 12:09 am »
Great move, sack the people who have made you what your are.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Lars-J

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #10 on: 01/12/2019 12:10 am »
I'm not sure why people are surprised by this. They have been growing drastically in employee count for the last decade... And every time they clear a new mark (7000 was the last number) people react with astonishment that "how could they make money with so many employees". This is really their first trimming of this kind, so why the surprise? (I gather it could be different crowds being surprised for different reasons, but still)

A normal company can do these kind of trims by encouraging early retirement. But this is where SpaceX is a bit hamstrung by its young workforce. So while it is a unfortunate for the people involved, 10% is still only 10%. Lets not make more out of it than it is.

Offline Lars-J

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #11 on: 01/12/2019 12:11 am »
Great move, sack the people who have made you what your are.

Huh... What? 10%. That is it. What do you think has happened at ULA in the last couple of years?

Offline docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #12 on: 01/12/2019 12:27 am »
It's not just head count, though that's a big part, it's also a skills mismatch.

Aluminum & composites vs superalloys & stainless steels, RP-1 vs CH4,ablatives vs  active TPS, etc.

and no doubt some folks who would be culled for cause but this may make it easier legally.  Many companies annually  cut 3-10% for this alone
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 12:29 am by docmordrid »
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #13 on: 01/12/2019 12:32 am »
While it's difficult for those involved, this kind of thing is absolutely necessary for the overall good of the economy.  It's the difference between the United States and the Soviet Union.

As companies grow and change, who they need will naturally change.  This means hiring lots of new people at some times.  It also means laying off lots of people at other times.  Otherwise, companies will be employing people they don't need.  That will make them less efficient.  They'll get less done.  Everyone will have a lower standard of living.  And companies will have less ability to hire the people that they actually need.

Online rockets4life97

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #14 on: 01/12/2019 12:44 am »
I honestly think this is a great sign. They are closing out lots of F9/Dragon work, but they probably don't want/need all the same folks working on BFR. It is much easier to cut positions and then add them back for BFR when they are needed.

Offline lonestriker

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #15 on: 01/12/2019 12:44 am »
I assume many of us old timers have been around the block a few times and seen our fair share of reorganizations, shifting corporate directions, changing of management teams, mergers/acquisitions, failed product launches, etc. the list goes on and on.  Sometimes, the layoffs and realignments are done well (severance, employee retraining for those who don't fit, cutting the under-performing employees and keeping the core).  Sometimes the layoffs are indiscriminate where you cut the good and keep the bad.

Given that SpaceX follows a Silicon Valley software startup structure more than it does a government/NASA or "old space" one, I assume they'll be deliberate and more fair in their selection of employees to layoff.  It's never easy and mostly sucks.  But as long as you keep your core technical leadership and the employees who will give you the best chance to succeed, as well as treat the ones you let go with respect (and appropriate compensation), then it's a part of life and growing up as a company.

I've been in small, nimble firms that annually cut the bottom 5-10%.  They mostly got it right, but often the choices were more political than based on merit.  From everything we know about SpaceX, I would hope that it's more of a meritocracy and that is how they'll handle this situation.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #16 on: 01/12/2019 12:45 am »
They were seeking a $750 million loan recently. Instead, what they got was a $273.2 million share sale and a loan of $250 million. That is a capital shortfall of $226.8 million.

Quote
I've been in small, nimble firms that annually cut the bottom 5-10%.  They mostly got it right, but often the choices were more political than based on merit.  From everything we know about SpaceX, I would hope that it's more of a meritocracy and that is how they'll handle this situation.

Here is an anecdote:

Quote
At about 10 o’clock on Saturday evening, an angry Musk was examining one of the production line’s mechanized modules, trying to figure out what was wrong, when the young, excited engineer was brought over to assist him.

“Hey, buddy, this doesn’t work!” Musk shouted at the engineer, according to someone who heard the conversation. “Did you do this?”

The engineer was taken aback. He had never met Musk before. Musk didn’t even know the engineer’s name. The young man wasn’t certain what, exactly, Musk was asking him, or why he sounded so angry.

“You mean, program the robot?” the engineer said. “Or design that tool?”

“Did you #&@*ing do this?” Musk asked him.

“I’m not sure what you’re referring to?” the engineer replied apologetically.

“You’re a #&@*ing idiot!” Musk shouted back. “Get the #&@* out and don’t come back!”

The young engineer climbed over a low safety barrier and walked away. He was bewildered by what had just happened. The entire conversation had lasted less than a minute. A few moments later, his manager came over to say that he had been fired on Musk’s orders...

https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musk-tesla-life-inside-gigafactory/
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 12:50 am by ncb1397 »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #17 on: 01/12/2019 12:49 am »
Great move, sack the people who have made you what your are.

Huh... What? 10%. That is it. What do you think has happened at ULA in the last couple of years?

And let's not forget General Electric under Jack Welch, who fired the bottom 10% performers in the company annually, while GE earnings and revenue grew dramatically in the 1980's and 1990's.




Offline docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #18 on: 01/12/2019 12:52 am »
They were seeking a $750 million loan recently. Instead, what they got was a $273.2 million share sale and a loan of $250 million. That is a capital shortfall of $226.8 million.

I believe that take was refuted.

There were reports they had enough offers to get the full amount but didn't take it, so ISTM when Starship forked from composites to stainless steel they needed less.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 12:52 am by docmordrid »
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Offline lonestriker

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #19 on: 01/12/2019 12:55 am »
They were seeking a $750 million loan recently. Instead, what they got was a $273.2 million share sale and a loan of $250 million. That is a capital shortfall of $226.8 million.

Quote
I've been in small, nimble firms that annually cut the bottom 5-10%.  They mostly got it right, but often the choices were more political than based on merit.  From everything we know about SpaceX, I would hope that it's more of a meritocracy and that is how they'll handle this situation.

Here is an anecdote:

Quote
At about 10 o’clock on Saturday evening, an angry Musk was examining one of the production line’s mechanized modules, trying to figure out what was wrong, when the young, excited engineer was brought over to assist him.

“Hey, buddy, this doesn’t work!” Musk shouted at the engineer, according to someone who heard the conversation. “Did you do this?”

The engineer was taken aback. He had never met Musk before. Musk didn’t even know the engineer’s name. The young man wasn’t certain what, exactly, Musk was asking him, or why he sounded so angry.

“You mean, program the robot?” the engineer said. “Or design that tool?”

“Did you #&@*ing do this?” Musk asked him.

“I’m not sure what you’re referring to?” the engineer replied apologetically.

“You’re a #&@*ing idiot!” Musk shouted back. “Get the #&@* out and don’t come back!”

The young engineer climbed over a low safety barrier and walked away. He was bewildered by what had just happened. The entire conversation had lasted less than a minute. A few moments later, his manager came over to say that he had been fired on Musk’s orders...

https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musk-tesla-life-inside-gigafactory/

I would take that with a grain of salt.  I believe Elon refuted that story.  I'm not saying Elon can't be a hot head and make bad decisions.  But SpaceX and Tesla tend to be highly rated companies to work at by the employees themselves.  So, you have to look at the whole picture and not just single, uncorroborated anecdotes.

Offline calapine

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #20 on: 01/12/2019 12:58 am »
Quote
"We had an all-hands meeting and were told to go home and wait for an email that basically says we stay or go. I have never seen a more quiet workforce in my life heading out."
https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/af1n7f/spacex_will_reduce_its_workforce_by_10_percent/edute2h/
via /r/SpaceX

It's Reddit, so grain of salt, but frankly, this seems like a very employees-unfriendly way to do the layoffs. (And I am being polite here.)


Offline Lars-J

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #21 on: 01/12/2019 01:05 am »
Quote
"We had an all-hands meeting and were told to go home and wait for an email that basically says we stay or go. I have never seen a more quiet workforce in my life heading out."
https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/af1n7f/spacex_will_reduce_its_workforce_by_10_percent/edute2h/
via /r/SpaceX

It's Reddit, so grain of salt, but frankly, this seems like a very employees-unfriendly way to do the layoffs. (And I am being polite here.)

There are few good ways of doing it. If that anecdote is true, I can still think of worse ways. But they don't have much experience in these kinds of layoffs.

We may be seeing SpaceX turning the corner from a startup to a more traditional company - at lest when it comes to hiring and firing practices. Hopefully they stay nimble.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #22 on: 01/12/2019 01:10 am »
Not sure how you reap the financial benefits of reusability without reducing some of the workforce that would have been needed to build all those expendable rockets.

No point in investing a billion dollars in making your boosters reusable and then just retaining the wage bill of an expendable rocket company. Much of the savings surely come from needing fewer people due to not having to build a new rocket for every launch.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 01:12 am by M.E.T. »

Offline Lars-J

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #23 on: 01/12/2019 01:15 am »
Jess Foust tweets: https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1083901216290103296

Quote
@jeff_foust
 SpaceX is laying off about 10 percent of its workforce, a move it says is needed to focus on its satellite constellation and launch vehicle projects. Some in the industry long expected something like this given how fast the company grew. http://bit.ly/2ADNKyk
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 01:18 am by Lars-J »

Offline lonestriker

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #24 on: 01/12/2019 01:20 am »
Quote
"We had an all-hands meeting and were told to go home and wait for an email that basically says we stay or go. I have never seen a more quiet workforce in my life heading out."
https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/af1n7f/spacex_will_reduce_its_workforce_by_10_percent/edute2h/
via /r/SpaceX

It's Reddit, so grain of salt, but frankly, this seems like a very employees-unfriendly way to do the layoffs. (And I am being polite here.)

From that same chain you linked:

Quote
That's an unfair summary. Both Elon and Gwynne expressed how difficult this is because they know how hardworking and talented everyone is, but it was necessary to guarantee future viability. This isn't the first time this happened and won't be the last most likely. If I get laid off it'll suck but if it helps the company get to Mars I'm fine with that

https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/af1n7f/spacex_will_reduce_its_workforce_by_10_percent/eduuopw/

I've been through a lot of layoffs; they've never been pleasant but were mostly necessary.  Layoffs are the price you pay for being in a more capitalist, nimble, but also also sometimes more unfair system.  The US has many broken things and the balance of power is probably shifted too far toward the employers/management rather than the workers, but it also is the place people like Elon come to build companies.  Great things are created here, but it does come at the expense of the "little guys" sometimes.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #25 on: 01/12/2019 01:38 am »
I'm sure Blue could find a home few of the exSpaceX employees, would mean moving across country.


Offline cferreir

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #26 on: 01/12/2019 01:53 am »
More significant is that their manifest of launches for this year is much smaller than 2018. Have not checked but it might be more than 10% less....

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #27 on: 01/12/2019 01:56 am »
I am feeling sad for all the (extremely, so hear) hard working employees at SpaceX who are going to lose their jobs. I understand why they are doing it, don't get me wrong. It is a business and running a business sometimes requires tough decisions. Still, I hope that everyone who lost their jobs will quickly find great positions elsewhere. With SpaceX on your resume, it should be easy and if you have been at SpaceX for a while, you sure deserve it!

Offline bodge

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #28 on: 01/12/2019 02:04 am »
Quote
"We had an all-hands meeting and were told to go home and wait for an email that basically says we stay or go. I have never seen a more quiet workforce in my life heading out."
https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/af1n7f/spacex_will_reduce_its_workforce_by_10_percent/edute2h/
via /r/SpaceX

It's Reddit, so grain of salt, but frankly, this seems like a very employees-unfriendly way to do the layoffs. (And I am being polite here.)

Worth citing for those not familiar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker_Adjustment_and_Retraining_Notification_Act_of_1988

I can say I've heard murmurs from beyond Reddit that second this. That being said, it's one thing to give people little notice, it's another to send all of them home and tell them to watch their e-mail.

While ULA does layoffs, I'm pretty sure they follow WARN to a T. SpaceX has never given employees notice with respect to WARN act, and always find a way to skirt just under reporting requirements. Don't be surprised if 498 employees are laid off, based on performance evaluations.

Offline brussell

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #29 on: 01/12/2019 02:18 am »
I'm sure Blue could find a home few of the exSpaceX employees, would mean moving across country.

Why would Blue want to hire people who got explicitly laid off for being in the bottom 10%?

Offline mme

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #30 on: 01/12/2019 02:23 am »
I'm sure Blue could find a home few of the exSpaceX employees, would mean moving across country.

Why would Blue want to hire people who got explicitly laid off for being in the bottom 10%?
As pointed out above, maybe they aren't bottom 10%. Maybe they were hired for CF work, or passive TPS, or maybe they work primarily on Dragon 1 builds, etc.

And on top of that, sometimes people are not the best performer because they are not a good fit with the team they are on or the company culture.
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #31 on: 01/12/2019 02:30 am »
I'm sure Blue could find a home few of the exSpaceX employees, would mean moving across country.

Why would Blue want to hire people who got explicitly laid off for being in the bottom 10%?
As pointed out above, maybe they aren't bottom 10%. Maybe they were hired for CF work, or passive TPS, or maybe they work primarily on Dragon 1 builds, etc.

And on top of that, sometimes people are not the best performer because they are not a good fit with the team they are on or the company culture.
I think that anyone who lasted at SpaceX for more than a few months is a top performer in this industry. I don't mean to sound negative towards SpaceX, but from what I know, every single employee there is really great at what they do. SpaceX is very demanding, more demanding that most other companies, not just in this industry. I just hope that those who are getting laid off, won't be discouraged by this and will keep their passion for space alive.

Offline Prettz

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #32 on: 01/12/2019 02:48 am »
This is because of the funding problems.

Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #33 on: 01/12/2019 02:57 am »
This is because of the funding problems.

Their only "funding problem" is starting two multi-billion dollar projects at the same time.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #34 on: 01/12/2019 03:09 am »
As I understand it, generally in these situations, those fired get accelerated vesting of options.  That could be a nice parting grant for many.

Offline Wolfram66

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #35 on: 01/12/2019 03:19 am »
It’s called Decimation... popular with the Roman Military. Reduce your ranks 1/10 th... hence decimal.... Randomly liquidate to “Inspire” the other 90% work more efficiently... operating capital increases with salary liberated from the terminated.   Not fair or kind... just is what it is...Business

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #36 on: 01/12/2019 03:34 am »
I'm sure Blue could find a home few of the exSpaceX employees, would mean moving across country.
Blue's sugardaddy just lost ~half his assets.

But actually yeah, I do expect Blue would hire some of them.

And I think turnover isn't really bad for the industry overall. If SpaceX had zero turnover, there wouldn't be a Firefly, Relativity, and many folks at Blue, Virgin, Rocketlab, etc. But it does suck hard for the people and families it happens to.

What I hope happens is more startups.

As far as SpaceX, it's neither good nor bad. Just a thing that probably has to happen to maintain enough efficiency to grow to Mars while retaining the financial independence necessary to achieve that goal.

... but that doesn't mean there can't be another way.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 03:35 am by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #37 on: 01/12/2019 03:34 am »
Some quotes from articles:

SpaceNews
Quote
The layoffs, a company source said, don’t indicate near-term financial problems at the company but rather a redistribution of resources to focus on development of its next-generation launch system and broadband constellation. They also reflect, note others in the industry, the belief that SpaceX grew quickly and likely needed to restructure in any event to lower its costs.

L.A. Times
Quote
SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to laid-off workers, according to Shotwell’s email. The company will also provide assistance with career coaching, resume help and job searches.

Offline Draggendrop

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #38 on: 01/12/2019 03:36 am »
SpaceX is reducing work force by 10%....but...

These job listings speak volumes...

https://www.spacex.com/careers/list

https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/spacex-jobs?currentJobId=1006755972

It is always sad when meaningful jobs are lost but I believe that this happened for a re-alignment and fiscal responsibility. The future is still very bright.

My 2 cents.

Offline mlindner

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #39 on: 01/12/2019 04:10 am »
Great move, sack the people who have made you what your are.

I wouldn't be so harsh. This is what corporate layoffs are and are VERY common in Silicon Valley. Whenever companies pivot to new technologies, shift to new products, get rid of old products, or even for some companies simply every year as a matter of practice, layoffs will happen. These are needed to clean out employees that while may have done awesome work in the past are either 1. too overpaid for the work they're performing or 2. suddenly have a lack of work because of products becoming obsolete. Obviously ideally they can retrain people to other jobs but sometimes that's just not possible or requires too much effort compared to hiring new people.

This does not spell doom for SpaceX and in fact I would say doing this is probably healthy and a good thing to do.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 04:11 am by mlindner »
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Offline EnigmaSCADA

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #40 on: 01/12/2019 04:14 am »


Some quotes from articles:

SpaceNews
Quote
The layoffs, a company source said, don’t indicate near-term financial problems at the company but rather a redistribution of resources to focus on development of its next-generation launch system and broadband constellation. They also reflect, note others in the industry, the belief that SpaceX grew quickly
L.A. Times
Quote
SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to laid-off workers, according to Shotwell’s email. The company will also provide assistance with career coaching, resume help and job searches.

8 weeks pay part, well ok, depending on how long you've put your blood/sweat equity into the company. The "help" with job searching & resume help is an utter joke. Anyone ever who has lost a job in similar circumstances can tell you that part is so meaningless it's nearly insulting when you actually see what it is. Nothing more than a PR line for the company.

Offline mlindner

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #41 on: 01/12/2019 04:16 am »
Quote
"We had an all-hands meeting and were told to go home and wait for an email that basically says we stay or go. I have never seen a more quiet workforce in my life heading out."
https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/af1n7f/spacex_will_reduce_its_workforce_by_10_percent/edute2h/
via /r/SpaceX

It's Reddit, so grain of salt, but frankly, this seems like a very employees-unfriendly way to do the layoffs. (And I am being polite here.)

No I think this is employees friendly. They're doing it very quickly (they're getting emails same-day within hours according to the reddit thread) and they're not being forced to sit around in their cubicles wondering if someone is going to suddenly walk up to them and walk them out in front of their colleagues as they watch the same happen to their other colleagues. I'd honestly prefer to be notified while I'm at home if I'm staying or leaving and I don't have to be embarrassed in front of others as I'm walked out. It's very humiliating.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 04:16 am by mlindner »
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Offline mlindner

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #42 on: 01/12/2019 04:22 am »
As I understand it, generally in these situations, those fired get accelerated vesting of options.  That could be a nice parting grant for many.

https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-spacex-layoffs-20190111-story.html

Quote
SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to laid-off workers, according to Shotwell’s email. The company will also provide assistance with career coaching, resume help and job searches.

So they're getting pretty generous severance packages. Someone on the reddit thread also mentioned they're getting 8 weeks + the next vestment period.
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Offline Prettz

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #43 on: 01/12/2019 05:03 am »
This is because of the funding problems.

Their only "funding problem" is starting two multi-billion dollar projects at the same time.
And the argument against is what?

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #44 on: 01/12/2019 07:00 am »
It’s called Decimation... popular with the Roman Military. Reduce your ranks 1/10 th... hence decimal.... Randomly liquidate to “Inspire” the other 90% work more efficiently... operating capital increases with salary liberated from the terminated.   Not fair or kind... just is what it is...Business

This is not at all Roman decimation.  With Rome, decimation was a punishment.  Decimation was done to units that were considered to have done something really bad, such as fleeing from battle.  Their punishment was to have one in ten of them executed.

Offline imprezive

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #45 on: 01/12/2019 07:29 am »


Some quotes from articles:

SpaceNews
The layoffs, a company source said, don’t indicate near-term financial problems at the company but rather a redistribution of resources to focus on development of its next-generation launch system and broadband constellation. They also reflect, note others in the industry, the belief that SpaceX grew quickly
L.A. Times
Quote
SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to laid-off workers, according to Shotwell’s email. The company will also provide assistance with career coaching, resume help and job searches.

8 weeks pay part, well ok, depending on how long you've put your blood/sweat equity into the company. The "help" with job searching & resume help is an utter joke. Anyone ever who has lost a job in similar circumstances can tell you that part is so meaningless it's nearly insulting when you actually see what it is. Nothing more than a PR line for the company.

When I got laid off (a site closure) the career coaching was actually pretty good and something like 80% of the people found jobs within a couple months.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 04:01 pm by imprezive »

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #46 on: 01/12/2019 07:33 am »
Whatever the circumstances it’s tough on the people involved. Especially when so many will have sacrificed so much to help SpaceX achieve their goals. I really hope they find good new positions soon.

Of course this is not a new thing for SpaceX. Here’s the thread from the 10% layoffs in 2014:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35254.0

Offline blasphemer

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #47 on: 01/12/2019 07:38 am »
Main benefit of reusable rocketry is that less people can do more. Labor costs are the most significant expense of a launch vehicle company. So this is to be expected. Expect more lay-offs in the future, and while it sucks for the people being let go, it is a sign of progress. Creative destruction in action.

Offline RobLynn

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #48 on: 01/12/2019 08:18 am »
So now we know why SpaceX were rushing to get the hopper shell finished even though engines are still more than a month away from being available and internal tanks aren't finished; generate some positive PR to deflect the press (along with Iridium launch) for the day of firing.  I am not faulting them for this, is a sensible way to fend off media fallout from a depressing event.
The glass is neither half full nor half empty, it's just twice as big as it needs to be.

Offline catdlr

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #49 on: 01/12/2019 08:28 am »
So now we know why SpaceX were rushing to get the hopper shell finished even though engines are still more than a month away from being available and internal tanks aren't finished; generate some positive PR to deflect the press (along with Iridium launch) for the day of firing.  I am not faulting them for this, is a sensible way to fend off media fallout from a depressing event.

and announcing the layoff on a Friday so you have the weekend for the public to forget it about, becoming old news on Monday
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 08:30 am by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa

Offline Star One

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SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #50 on: 01/12/2019 08:30 am »
Quote
"We had an all-hands meeting and were told to go home and wait for an email that basically says we stay or go. I have never seen a more quiet workforce in my life heading out."
https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/af1n7f/spacex_will_reduce_its_workforce_by_10_percent/edute2h/
via /r/SpaceX

It's Reddit, so grain of salt, but frankly, this seems like a very employees-unfriendly way to do the layoffs. (And I am being polite here.)

From that same chain you linked:

Quote
That's an unfair summary. Both Elon and Gwynne expressed how difficult this is because they know how hardworking and talented everyone is, but it was necessary to guarantee future viability. This isn't the first time this happened and won't be the last most likely. If I get laid off it'll suck but if it helps the company get to Mars I'm fine with that

https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/af1n7f/spacex_will_reduce_its_workforce_by_10_percent/eduuopw/

I've been through a lot of layoffs; they've never been pleasant but were mostly necessary.  Layoffs are the price you pay for being in a more capitalist, nimble, but also also sometimes more unfair system.  The US has many broken things and the balance of power is probably shifted too far toward the employers/management rather than the workers, but it also is the place people like Elon come to build companies.  Great things are created here, but it does come at the expense of the "little guys" sometimes.

To say it’s an unfair system is probably the biggest understatement I’ve seen in sometime.

Not being anti-capitalist but rather commenting that the playing field isn’t as flat as it should be. Also to further add this isn’t a US but rather universal issue in my view. But that’s veering wildly off topic so I will say no more.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 09:57 am by Star One »

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You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline DreamyPickle

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #52 on: 01/12/2019 10:07 am »
SpaceX business strategy is very confusing. The Falcon 9 is a very good launcher, but the design is "done" and reusability means they need very low production rate to sustain their launches.

They seem to have 2 major directions:

Starship is a revolutionary launcher for which there is no market! The F9 is already a very cheap way to serve most customers so the only way BFR can get revenues is by taking it from Falcon. From a business perspective it doesn't make sense to invest in this.

Starlink tries to use F9 capability to win in the leo comsat market. They have major advantages but it's an extremely high-risk bet because they're also competing with traditional telecoms and in the past ground-based infrastructure has always won.

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #53 on: 01/12/2019 10:46 am »
SpaceX business strategy is very confusing. The Falcon 9 is a very good launcher, but the design is "done" and reusability means they need very low production rate to sustain their launches.

They seem to have 2 major directions:

Starship is a revolutionary launcher for which there is no market! The F9 is already a very cheap way to serve most customers so the only way BFR can get revenues is by taking it from Falcon. From a business perspective it doesn't make sense to invest in this.

Starlink tries to use F9 capability to win in the leo comsat market. They have major advantages but it's an extremely high-risk bet because they're also competing with traditional telecoms and in the past ground-based infrastructure has always won.

Not confusing at all, from a business standpoint, they're trying to break out of the launch market. The launch sector is very small, they'll never become a big company by just doing launch. Starship is one breakout direction: BLEO (especially to the Moon), human spaceflight, space tourism. Starlink is another breakout direction: telecommunication satellite market.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 10:48 am by su27k »

Offline Wargrim

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #54 on: 01/12/2019 11:24 am »
People are regularly confused by Musk's decisions because they measure them against conventional profit oriented business practices and decisions.

But his actions only make sense if you take his words and actually accept the idea that for him, it is about the mission and long term goals of a company, and profitability is just a means to an end, not an end in itself.

E.g. it makes zero sense to go full balls to the walls into parallel Starlink & BFR development if you just look at a risk vs. profit potential analysis. Building up Starlink on F9 with smaller initial constellation size and more gradual over time buildup would have offered a much lower risk profile with still pretty large profit potential.

But if the driver is the want for Mars, and thus BFR the primary focus, as it is essential for getting the wanted, now Starlink is just the money source and you kind of have to go parallell for maximum speed.

All his companies have been run that way, mission first, go for maximum speed even if it means maximum risk. He has regularly put entire companies at the brink of going down in flames. And thus not just 10% of employees, but potentially 100%. It is absolutely obvious he will always chose max speed over risk reduction. He will always drive both him and the workforce at maximum attrition level, and beyond. And he is ready to throw anyone under the bus who gets in the way of the mission.

Every approach has upsides and downsides, the upsides here include the rapid achievement of very impressive results. The downside is a very high human cost, lots of people end up under the bus. Cant have the one without the other. The recent 10% layoff is actually relatively small in the grand picture of Musk's way of doing things. It implies that 90% of the workforce can be transfered across in the middle of a product change, technology change, manufacturing change, material change, business model change and who-knows-what-else change.

I keep being amazed by what SpaceX has done for spaceflight, and i want to see more of it, but at the same time i am glad it is not me paying the price. I would not want to work under Musk directly, the man has no idea what a work-life balance even is. For him, his work is his life. I see working at a Musk company a bit like an extreme sport: If you want that level of excitement, sure, go for it. But do not be surprised if the risk of if materializes and you find yourself under the bus.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #55 on: 01/12/2019 11:55 am »
Yes, it's an unpleasant experience for everyone concerned but let's keep in mind a few things.

F9 block 5 is out and it's been stated there will be no further updates. It's done as a design. More reuse -->
much lower rate booster production. Do new customers even have the option of having a new build booster any more? If not then I'd guess booster production rate has to cover crashes and a booster reaching end of life (10 flights?). If SX have done a launch ever 2 weeks as long at you built a booster in 20 weeks you can keep up with the fleet flying out its launches.

FH seems to have been frozen as well, and it was a PITA to get across the finish line, so the 3 core approach looks like a dead end. It's done too. They've got the design. They can make more center cores if someone buys another FH launch. I'm sure there's a "Stuff we could do better next time" list (likewise with F9), but unless the changes are quite minor (or cheap) I think the design is frozen.

I'm presuming there will be a Dragon 2/Crew and a Dragon 2/Cargo variant with maximum commonality, and a goal of maximum reuse, making the production rate (again) pretty low.

SS is now SS, not CFRP, and I think it's a pretty safe bet SH will be as well. Stainless is very different from CFRP and quite a bit different than Aluminum. There are lots of people with SS experience, but many fewer with very large CFRP structure experience.

Starlink satellites have to start moving toward series production. There revenue stream could make or break SX, giving it a substantial revenue stream to reach its long term goals. That's not going to be cheap but it would give SX financial security and greater independence.

So you're Elon Musk. What can you do?

a) Approach the USG and pitch some monster programme they will fund that's made mostly of Aluminum and CFRP, keeping all those people who SH/SS don't need employed.

b) Recognize that new directions need new skillsets and new staff to deliver them and a significant portion of the old staff are redundant (in the dictionary definition of the word).

c) Come up with some other way to keep everyone employed that does not bankrupt the company in a few years (which I can't think of, but then I'm not Elon Musk).

But real life is not a novel.  :( IRL option b is the only logical option.

And assuming SH/SS works out all remaining F9/FH related staff will also go, as will most Merlin related staff since Raptors will have been sufficient to launch at least one SH/SS already. Dragon Crew/Cargo have systems relevant to SH/SS regarding ECLSS and NASA certification so they should be relatively safe if Musk wants a piece of the new NASA going back to the Moon initiative (assuming it survives Trumps presidency).

« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 12:00 pm by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Star One

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #56 on: 01/12/2019 11:59 am »
Yes, it's an unpleasant experience for everyone concerned but let's keep in mind a few things.

F9 block 5 is out and it's been stated there will be no further updates. It's done as a design. More reuse -->
much lower rate booster production. Do new customers even have the option of having a new build booster any more? If not then I'd guess booster production rate has to cover crashes and a booster reaching end of life (10 flights?). If SX have done a launch ever 2 weeks as long at you built a booster in 20 weeks you can keep up with the fleet flying out its launches.

FH seems to have been frozen as well, and it was a PITA to get across the finish line, so the 3 core approach looks like a dead end. It's done too.

I'm presuming there will be a Dragon 2/Crew and a Dragon 2/Cargo variant with maximum commonality, and a goal of maximum reuse, making the production rate (again) pretty low.

SS is now SS, not CFRP, and I think it's a pretty safe bet SH will be as well. Stainless is very different from CFRP and quite a bit different than Aluminum. There are lots of people with SS experience, but many fewer with very large CFRP structure experience.

Starlink satellites have to start moving toward series production. There revenue stream could make or break SX, giving it a substantial revenue stream to reach its long term goals. That's not going to be cheap but it would give SX financial security and greater independence.

So you're Elon Musk. What can you do?

a) Approach the USG and pitch some monster programme they will fund that's made mostly of Aluminum and CFRP, keeping all those people who SH/SS don't need employed.

b) Recognize that new directions need new skillsets and new staff to deliver them and a significant portion of the old staff are redundant (in the dictionary definition of the word).

c) Come up with some other way to keep everyone employed that does not bankrupt the company in a few years (which I can't think of, but then I'm not Elon Musk).

But real life is not a novel.  :( IRL option b is the only logical option.

And assuming SH/SS works out all remaining F9/FH related staff will also go, as will most Merlin related staff since Raptors will have been sufficient to launch at least one SH/SS already. Dragon Crew/Cargo have systems relevant to SH/SS regarding ECLSS and NASA certification so they should be relatively safe if Musk wants a piece of the new NASA going back to the Moon initiative (assuming it survives Trumps presidency).

I thought both the Air Force & NASA wanted new boosters on their flights, or in the case of NASA their manned flights, for the time being.

Offline eeergo

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #57 on: 01/12/2019 12:13 pm »
That doesn't seem particularly harsh or dooming for a company in today's climate. I say this while agreeing with what Star One's comment above suggests, that doesn't mean it's fair or even advisable for the well-being of a company in the long term.

(By the way, folks should probably guess before posting Roman army tactics as an advisable method of XXI-century company management that labor laws (quite flexible in the US) are in place because there have been battles fought and lessons learned in the last 200 years of Industrial Revolution).

Not so sure it isn't harsh, or ill-advised, for a company like SpaceX, especially when most of the staff is clearly grossly overworked --even if that's considered to be a thriving ground for some--.

There's in my view a big disconnect in how people do accounting here. How much does a SpaceX worker cost annually, taking into account benefits and gross pay, less than $200k (probably quite less for a lot of technicians)? Considering a layoff of 700 people, you're saving at most $140M. That's surely a lot of money, but it's about 2 annual launch contracts at F9 prices, or a few lost cores on return. These laid-off people, or a sizable subset of them, are not able to contribute anything to that end?

The annual career, lifestyle and potential contribution of 4-5 highly-specialized and -performing workers is worth the fairings that were chosen to be dumped in the ocean in yesterday's launch, because of a few days' bad weather - let's reflect about that.

Then, there's the obvious elephant(s?) in the room that IMHO many are glossing over while obsessing over some technical minutiae:

- F9-R is mature and profitable, most technical wrinkles should have been ironed out by now, reusability as a business model probably is mature and profitable too. Despite this, SpaceX is reducing launches this year.

- There are alleged funding problems. Maybe they have been dismissed by the company's executives (who would expect them to flat-out confirm them anyway, unless they were so severe as to be obvious?), but as they say "when the river makes sounds, it carries water".

- There's an alleged capital drain from SpaceX to not-so-successful (in great part because of not so many talented experienced personnel are in them) Musk companies, also with less-than-clear purposes. Probably nothing major or as strange as it sounds, but should be kept in mind.

- There's a lot (and then some) of insanely positive publicity for SpaceX that no other players enjoy, brought in by the merits in what they delivered, yes -- but also by their well-studied approach to keeping public expectations high, which obviously brings in capital.

- Starlink's business model is still very much up in the air, and we should remember what happened to the last company attempting something as revolutionary as this, even if backed by a USG giant.

- Finally, the largest elephant that almost doesn't fit the room, and maybe is being mistaken as a room's wall: the ultimate justification for all this, the Mars architecture (and purpose): it was very much an experimental, almost conceptual, "Skunk-work" understaffed project until a few months ago (completion of D2's development).
Now it is claimed to be the main focus of attention -- but it's obvious the technical design is very much in early development, having just been head-to-toe upended a few weeks ago.
Not to mention the only solid development it has to show is subscale developmental models of an extremely promising engine, which was nevertheless started many years ago when said architecture wasn't even defined. This, followed by animations of a complex system the likes of which was never even attempted anywhere before, a substandard developmental tank whose design was abandoned, and -yes, I'm sorry to put it this way but someone has to say it- an empty, shiny, cheaply-constructed look-at-me billboard Starship in the middle of a muddy field.

Maybe this layoff is just as inevitable and healthy (for SpaceX) as 2014's, and at that time there were also big looming grey clouds in the horizon which were blown away; or maybe this time is different - but there's some reading between the lines to be done.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 12:16 pm by eeergo »
-DaviD-

Offline philw1776

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #58 on: 01/12/2019 12:25 pm »
I'm sure Blue could find a home few of the exSpaceX employees, would mean moving across country.

Why would Blue want to hire people who got explicitly laid off for being in the bottom 10%?
As pointed out above, maybe they aren't bottom 10%. Maybe they were hired for CF work, or passive TPS, or maybe they work primarily on Dragon 1 builds, etc.

And on top of that, sometimes people are not the best performer because they are not a good fit with the team they are on or the company culture.

Well said.
I worked in high tech, computers & later in communications.  Got laid off twice.  Once from Viatron, a startup that folded suddenly.  Zero severance unlike the 8 weeks these SpaceX folks got.  The other time was from a big company RCA computer which announced it was exiting the computer business on the 11 o'clock news Friday night.  The story said they informed the employees at end of business that day but they did not.  I was there in the open office layout until 6:30PM that night.  Bought a newspaper the next (Saturday) morning to prove I hadn't hallucinated the news last night. 2 weeks severance.

Worse was later when I ran engineering for smaller firms.  I had to approve every person we'd let go.  Yes, there was some overdue severance of poor performers and people who just weren't adapted to the way we ran and others whose skill set was fixed and we no longer needed them.  Hated that part of small startup high tech.

I wish SpaceX's ex-employees good fortune in job hunting and hope that SpaceX can actually afford to develop StarLink & BFwhatever simultaneously as this year's launch market shrinks before hoped for revenue arrives.

.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 12:33 pm by philw1776 »
"It'll bang right out!"

Online Llian Rhydderch

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #59 on: 01/12/2019 12:52 pm »
ULA has also done a number of repeated layoffs since 2014.

May 2015 “Mother’s Day Massacre”  https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37586.0

where Tory Bruno had previously announced, in 2014, large layoffs as part of ULA restructuring: “Tory said last year during BE4 announcement that ULA work forced would be reduced by 30-50%.”


March 2016: “Tory Bruno to announce layoffs on 3/29” a longish thread on the major layoffs during 2016 at ULA. 
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39827.0


Also had this:  “ULA expects another 400 to 500 job cuts in 2017"

Companies employ people to accomplish ends, to build stuff or develop new stuff.  When the need for that output changes, and the people working on that stuff are not needed to produce the stuff, they don't typically, and they cannot sustainably, keep human resources on the payroll indefinitely.  Change comes along.  We live in a world of #dynamism.

« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 12:53 pm by Llian Rhydderch »
Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
"You would actually save yourself time and effort if you were to use evidence and logic to make your points instead of wrapping yourself in the royal mantle of authority.  The approach only works on sheep, not inquisitive, intelligent people."

Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #60 on: 01/12/2019 01:12 pm »
I thought both the Air Force & NASA wanted new boosters on their flights, or in the case of NASA their manned flights, for the time being.
Same here, hence my qualification about new contracts.

But I think NASA's position has been shifting. Obviously the USAF will be looking for at least 8 successful launches to meet the Aerospace 5/8 rule but beyond that

That suggests a fair bit of room to reduce F9 booster head count. F9 US would depend on what SX expect to be a sustainable  launch rate, but they do seem to maintain a fairly lengthy launch manifest, so I think they keep all of them on at present.

The next logical break points (like on a graph) are
a)When SX demonstrates enough successful NASA and USAF launches to waive the "new booster"
requirement. By then all new boosters will be to the Blk5 standard.
b) When SH/SS has established enough of a track record that F9/FH/Merlin production can all be phased out, unless those USG contracts refuse to move to SH/SS.

The joker in the pack for SX's future would be SH/SS works but NASA/USAF won't abandon the F9, so SX have to keep building them.  :(

This behavior would be very expensive for SX to sustain and (frankly) pretty suspicious on behalf of NASA and/or the USAF.
If it did happen I'd expect SX would threaten lawyers ("SS has gone to Geo 8 times and come back and can fly to LEO with X number of Dragons on board. What more do we have to do to convince you it's safe?")
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 01:25 pm by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline krsears

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #61 on: 01/12/2019 01:24 pm »
Way too much knee-jerking here.  No one knows the make up of the lay offs, nor the division(s)/location(s) that are affected.  The layoffs may be unnecessary accounting, HR, or office management staff as opposed to engineers or fabrication workers.

This doesn't mitigate the effects of the layoffs on those people, but the fact remains that the removal of some positions are far more disruptive than others.

If SpaceX really wanted to reduce workforce costs, moving positions out of high-tax California to other SpaceX locations in other states would be the easiest and least disruptive means.  The fact that they aren't doing so points to other business related reasons and not simply a need for cash.

Kendall

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #62 on: 01/12/2019 01:40 pm »
On Reddit a guy confirmed having been layed off. He was in acquisitions.

Offline gtae07

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #63 on: 01/12/2019 02:07 pm »
There's in my view a big disconnect in how people do accounting here. How much does a SpaceX worker cost annually, taking into account benefits and gross pay, less than $200k (probably quite less for a lot of technicians)? Considering a layoff of 700 people, you're saving at most $140M.

The cost of employing someone is a lot more than simply gross pay plus cost of benefits.  There's a thing called overhead, which covers everything else that the person needs to do their job that isn't directly part of the product.  In my field (engineering) that would include things like computer licenses/IT administration, office space rental, office equipment, phone lines, facilities costs (lighting, water/sewage, HVAC), leased space, training costs, paperwork and government compliance costs (which includes the marginal cost of all the HR people administering that stuff), payroll processing costs, company-issued equipment, and more.

A very rough estimate says take total compensation (pay plus benefits) and double it, and that's consistent with my observations of burden rates (effectively, the per-hour cost of an employee accounting for everything above) in various companies. 

It does kind of stink for those losing the jobs, but at the same time... if you have specialists in a certain area, and due to a strategy change there's no more need for that specialty... what good does keeping them around do?  Yes, people can be retrained but in the long run it's generally going to be best for everyone to move on. 

I like what I do and where I work, but if I were offered a choice between stay here and become, say, a stress analyst (essentially almost starting my career over, even if I kept the pay) or lose my job and have to move somewhere else, I'd probably be moving even though it would mean some short-term pain.

Offline ZachF

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #64 on: 01/12/2019 02:27 pm »
Sucks for many of the hardworking SpaceX employees   :(

Ultimately though, it's kind of expected. I'd bet nearly all the cuts are on the Falcon production line. Now that they're building up a fleet of block 5 boosters, and they're re-using them multiple times, they will need much less booster production.... Probably much less than any increase in S2 production needs would bring.
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Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #65 on: 01/12/2019 02:52 pm »
Sucks for many of the hardworking SpaceX employees   :(

Ultimately though, it's kind of expected. I'd bet nearly all the cuts are on the Falcon production line. Now that they're building up a fleet of block 5 boosters, and they're re-using them multiple times, they will need much less booster production.... Probably much less than any increase in S2 production needs would bring.

Not only are there changes coming to production needs, but SpaceX has been rushing to do a lot of things. Often they hire contractors to get things done fast, but undoubtedly they have added internally for the same reasons. SpaceX is also growing rapidly, and still does start-up style product "pivots" where they rapidly change direction, like CFRP>stainless BFR.

The combination of hurry, growth, and change probably is reflected in some (a small fraction) of their employees not being the most suitable for future growth. Trimming employees who may be talented and hard working but are no longer needed not only reduces costs but signals to investors that they are still a flexible company, and that they are willing to make some very hard decisions that are necessary to keep growing and get their goals accomplished.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 02:54 pm by envy887 »

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #66 on: 01/12/2019 03:15 pm »
There's in my view a big disconnect in how people do accounting here. How much does a SpaceX worker cost annually, taking into account benefits and gross pay, less than $200k (probably quite less for a lot of technicians)? Considering a layoff of 700 people, you're saving at most $140M.

The cost of employing someone is a lot more than simply gross pay plus cost of benefits.  There's a thing called overhead, which covers everything else that the person needs to do their job that isn't directly part of the product.  In my field (engineering) that would include things like computer licenses/IT administration, office space rental, office equipment, phone lines, facilities costs (lighting, water/sewage, HVAC), leased space, training costs, paperwork and government compliance costs (which includes the marginal cost of all the HR people administering that stuff), payroll processing costs, company-issued equipment, and more.

A very rough estimate says take total compensation (pay plus benefits) and double it, and that's consistent with my observations of burden rates (effectively, the per-hour cost of an employee accounting for everything above) in various companies. 

It does kind of stink for those losing the jobs, but at the same time... if you have specialists in a certain area, and due to a strategy change there's no more need for that specialty... what good does keeping them around do?  Yes, people can be retrained but in the long run it's generally going to be best for everyone to move on. 

I like what I do and where I work, but if I were offered a choice between stay here and become, say, a stress analyst (essentially almost starting my career over, even if I kept the pay) or lose my job and have to move somewhere else, I'd probably be moving even though it would mean some short-term pain.

For a heavily facilitated company (Factories, assembly lines, a square mile test facility in Texas,...) a more realistic overhead multiplier for salaries is Pi.

As for getting new jobs, my firm picked up one of those furloughed from ULA. We are delighted to have him. Really bright and capable guy.
I know others who went to Blue Origin.
In fact, ULA is so very different from SpaceX as to make the layoffs minimally comparable.

I wonder if the separation of The Boring Company has been completed or if some fraction of this could be people being badged over to what they are really working on.

The only aspect that’s disquieting to me is the 10% value.
I am inherently distrustful of round numbers.
Rationally driven moves rarely come out to round values.
It’s either a ham-handed management or financial dictate, like the Roman decimation but without fatalities, or it’s a legal thing, WARN act and such.

But yes, the personal disruption is difficult, even for people who sign up knowing the company is extremely “dynamic”.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 03:16 pm by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #67 on: 01/12/2019 03:25 pm »
Sucks for many of the hardworking SpaceX employees   :(

Ultimately though, it's kind of expected. I'd bet nearly all the cuts are on the Falcon production line. Now that they're building up a fleet of block 5 boosters, and they're re-using them multiple times, they will need much less booster production.... Probably much less than any increase in S2 production needs would bring.

Not only is the F9 S1 line and support probably much less than 10% of the company, SpaceX still needs to keep this going strong.
There has not been an abundance of tested stages leaving McGregor and piling up at the Cape or Vandenberg. And IIRC several of the recent launches have had last minute delays because they “needed more work on the rocket”.  The Falcon 9 is not a “finished product “ yet. Laying off people as you “barrel to the finish line”, with more layoffs or reassignments anticipated, is not a great way to motivate people, although I have been there and done that.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #68 on: 01/12/2019 03:51 pm »
I'd bet nearly all the cuts are on the Falcon production line.

What? They have a HUGE backlog of 1st stage boosters they have to build. Remember Musk said they would build between 30-50 of them before shutting down production. No one in Falcon 9 production should be getting laid off, not unless they were an under-performer.

Quote
Now that they're building up a fleet of block 5 boosters, and they're re-using them multiple times, they will need much less booster production.... Probably much less than any increase in S2 production needs would bring.

They still need the same number of 2nd stages produced (i.e. one for each launch), which use the same production lines, and with the large backlog of 1st stages I doubt they would make force reduction in the stage production area. Even for Merlin engines they still need new ones for the new stages, though maybe they plan to swap engines across engine-less stages being held in reserve.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline eeergo

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #69 on: 01/12/2019 03:54 pm »
There's in my view a big disconnect in how people do accounting here. How much does a SpaceX worker cost annually, taking into account benefits and gross pay, less than $200k (probably quite less for a lot of technicians)? Considering a layoff of 700 people, you're saving at most $140M.

The cost of employing someone is a lot more than simply gross pay plus cost of benefits.  [...]

A very rough estimate says take total compensation (pay plus benefits) and double it, and that's consistent with my observations of burden rates (effectively, the per-hour cost of an employee accounting for everything above) in various companies. 

That may be the case, I'm not too much into accounting. Still, a factor of 2 (or 3, as pointed out below) doesn't change my argument much, even if that overhead cost could be eliminated completely, which I doubt considering it's mostly infrastructure and HR (not a one-to-one relationship to employee numbers, plus reductions there could easily be counterproductive to efficiency and capabilities in the long run) - and also noting this layoff probably isn't about hard cash alone.

In any case, my post was about the overall point that there seem to be quite some issues for which fire this layoff only throws wood to; the savings figures were just used to illustrate what kind of money we're talking about, compared to hardware or other expenses.
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Offline matthewkantar

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #70 on: 01/12/2019 03:56 pm »
The glass is ninety percent full. For the folks still standing, this is a pat on the back/thumbs up.

It is not possible to hire perfectly.  Mistakes made in hiring need to be tracked and corrected occasionally. Keeping people aboard who are a bad fit can be just as bad for morale as letting them go.

Sometimes good people, even good workers are a bad fit. It is hard work to to let people go, but necessary.

Matthew

Offline RocketManX

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #71 on: 01/12/2019 03:56 pm »
All of this has happened before and all of it will happen again. Wish those who have gone the very best.
ULA has had bigger culls, but they don't make headlines.

Offline ZachF

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #72 on: 01/12/2019 04:03 pm »
I'd bet nearly all the cuts are on the Falcon production line.

What? They have a HUGE backlog of 1st stage boosters they have to build. Remember Musk said they would build between 30-50 of them before shutting down production. No one in Falcon 9 production should be getting laid off, not unless they were an under-performer.

Quote
Now that they're building up a fleet of block 5 boosters, and they're re-using them multiple times, they will need much less booster production.... Probably much less than any increase in S2 production needs would bring.

They still need the same number of 2nd stages produced (i.e. one for each launch), which use the same production lines, and with the large backlog of 1st stages I doubt they would make force reduction in the stage production area. Even for Merlin engines they still need new ones for the new stages, though maybe they plan to swap engines across engine-less stages being held in reserve.

They've already built and flown 6 of those 30-50, and that number will likely rise to 16 by the end of this year even with production cuts to 10/y, and if they only build 6 per year thereafter (previous average 2016-2018 was about 12/year) it looks like this;

cumulative S1 production:

2018: 6
2019: 16
2020: 22
2021: 28
2022: 34
2023: 40

Well within the "30-50" range

If you cut S1 production to 6 per year and have 30-40 launches you only need 80-90 merlins per year vs. 120+ before. 24 landing legs vs 40 per year before, 6 octoweb assemblies vs. 12, etc... Something that doesn't change though is tank domes which stays at +/-100 per year.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 04:10 pm by ZachF »
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Offline AC in NC

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #73 on: 01/12/2019 04:04 pm »
Notwithstanding the properly recognized empathy for those affected, there feels a bit of excessively handwringing here.

As stated above the "burden rate" is likely at least $200K/employee.  7 or 8K employees is a $1.4-1.6B labor nut.  With the inferences we can draw about Revenue from the known Manifest, labor cost is a significant issue until Revenue is expanded significantly.

Offline imprezive

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #74 on: 01/12/2019 04:17 pm »
There's in my view a big disconnect in how people do accounting here. How much does a SpaceX worker cost annually, taking into account benefits and gross pay, less than $200k (probably quite less for a lot of technicians)? Considering a layoff of 700 people, you're saving at most $140M.

The cost of employing someone is a lot more than simply gross pay plus cost of benefits.  [...]

A very rough estimate says take total compensation (pay plus benefits) and double it, and that's consistent with my observations of burden rates (effectively, the per-hour cost of an employee accounting for everything above) in various companies. 

That may be the case, I'm not too much into accounting. Still, a factor of 2 (or 3, as pointed out below) doesn't change my argument much, even if that overhead cost could be eliminated completely, which I doubt considering it's mostly infrastructure and HR (not a one-to-one relationship to employee numbers, plus reductions there could easily be counterproductive to efficiency and capabilities in the long run) - and also noting this layoff probably isn't about hard cash alone.

In any case, my post was about the overall point that there seem to be quite some issues for which fire this layoff only throws wood to; the savings figures were just used to illustrate what kind of money we're talking about, compared to hardware or other expenses.

You’re fundamentally misunderstanding how revenue works though. If SpaceX sells 2 launches for $140M the money they have left over after the cost of the launch to them would be the money to pay for these extra people in your scenario. Even if you’re generous and say it’s only costs them $70M to build and launch 2 missions that’s 4 launches to cover the layoffs. That’s A LOT given the slow down in the GEO market and the fact that launching starlink is just accounting revenue but no actual cash into the business.

You also have a limited $ to invest back into the business so that extra $70M to keep staff is $70M not spent on new projects which hurts your long term viability. Lay offs aren’t fun for anyone but that doesn’t mean they aren’t often the right decision.

Offline punder

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #75 on: 01/12/2019 04:27 pm »
These people aren't going to starve. On the contrary, they're going to be headhunted and recruited like mad!

If I had the good fortune to work at SpaceX, and were layed off, I'd be absolutely devastated. But I'd be confident of having a good job again soon.

Good luck to them all.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #76 on: 01/12/2019 04:54 pm »
SpaceX has just completed a two-year series of launches for Iridium NEXT from Vandenberg AFB.  It only has two launches planned from the West Coast this year.  Probably not a coincidence the cuts were announced after Iridium NEXT 8 cleared the pad. 

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #77 on: 01/12/2019 04:57 pm »
SpaceX has just completed a two-year series of launches for Iridium NEXT from Vandenberg AFB.  It only has two launches planned from the West Coast this year.  Probably not a coincidence the cuts were announced after Iridium NEXT 8 cleared the pad. 

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There are as many as four more West Coast launches this year, although I'll be very surprised if one or more don't slip to 2020.

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Offline F9man

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #79 on: 01/12/2019 06:08 pm »
OK here. Sad day but obviously required.

Online Jcc

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #80 on: 01/12/2019 06:59 pm »
Déjà vu:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35254.0
In 2014 10% was 300 employees, now it's 700. Same percentage. Interesting.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #81 on: 01/12/2019 07:44 pm »
Déjà vu:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35254.0
In 2014 10% was 300 employees, now it's 700. Same percentage. Interesting.
Have any startups formed from those 300 from 2014? If so, which ones?
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Offline Slarty1080

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #82 on: 01/12/2019 08:07 pm »
I assume many of us old timers have been around the block a few times and seen our fair share of reorganizations, shifting corporate directions, changing of management teams, mergers/acquisitions, failed product launches, etc. the list goes on and on.  Sometimes, the layoffs and realignments are done well (severance, employee retraining for those who don't fit, cutting the under-performing employees and keeping the core).  Sometimes the layoffs are indiscriminate where you cut the good and keep the bad.

Given that SpaceX follows a Silicon Valley software startup structure more than it does a government/NASA or "old space" one, I assume they'll be deliberate and more fair in their selection of employees to layoff.  It's never easy and mostly sucks.  But as long as you keep your core technical leadership and the employees who will give you the best chance to succeed, as well as treat the ones you let go with respect (and appropriate compensation), then it's a part of life and growing up as a company.

I've been in small, nimble firms that annually cut the bottom 5-10%.  They mostly got it right, but often the choices were more political than based on merit.  From everything we know about SpaceX, I would hope that it's more of a meritocracy and that is how they'll handle this situation.

I would have thought Musk would be very good at this (although I'm sure he would not enjoy it). He is very good at obtaining the best people for the job (he personally interviewed almost all of the first 1000 SpaceX employees himslef) and he is utterly ruthless when he needs to be in order to achieve his aims (when his personal assistant of 10 years standing wanted a payrise he told her to take a couple of week off so that he could assess how demanding her job was. When she returned two weeks later Musk said he could manage without her and fired her).
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Offline Hauerg

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #83 on: 01/12/2019 08:42 pm »
This is because of the funding problems.
This is because of rockets that land and fly again.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #84 on: 01/12/2019 10:25 pm »
Déjà vu:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35254.0

And we have historical hindsight for what happened afterward. According to WSJ graphs, they went from operating in the black in 2014 to operating in the red in 2015. They had a launch failure within 12 months and 2 in 2 years. You can recover what was lost as the living organism adapts to the loss of a limb, but it will likely take time. It happens to ULA as well. They are having mighty troubles launching their latest Delta IV Heavy. It wouldn't at all surprise me if that is due to hollowing out of the Delta IV team.

If past is prologue, we may be in for a rough 2019/2020.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2019 10:35 pm by ncb1397 »

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #85 on: 01/12/2019 11:20 pm »
Déjà vu:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35254.0

And we have historical hindsight for what happened afterward. According to WSJ graphs, they went from operating in the black in 2014 to operating in the red in 2015. They had a launch failure within 12 months and 2 in 2 years. You can recover what was lost as the living organism adapts to the loss of a limb, but it will likely take time. It happens to ULA as well. They are having mighty troubles launching their latest Delta IV Heavy. It wouldn't at all surprise me if that is due to hollowing out of the Delta IV team.

If past is prologue, we may be in for a rough 2019/2020.

What is your alternative? Remaining with a static workforce forever, even when business needs change?

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #86 on: 01/12/2019 11:21 pm »
Déjà vu:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35254.0
In 2014 10% was 300 employees, now it's 700. Same percentage. Interesting.
Have any startups formed from those 300 from 2014? If so, which ones?

I'd be surprised if there were any - it's not the typical startup "recipe" for laid-off aerospace workers to create a startup.

Usually startups are created by employees that have had left successful companies after significant equity events (i.e. IPO or sold), and they are flush with money and reputation.

Laid-off SpaceX employees will be sought after to be employees, since they obviously had to be exceptional to be hired and will have had unique work experiences. But I'm not sure their experience qualifies them to start companies.

My $0.02
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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #87 on: 01/12/2019 11:35 pm »
They've already built and flown 6 of those 30-50, and that number will likely rise to 16 by the end of this year even with production cuts to 10/y, and if they only build 6 per year thereafter (previous average 2016-2018 was about 12/year) it looks like this;

Their 1st stage production rate has been what I would call "low rate" for quite a while. My background is in factory scheduling, so I watch for info on what they are doing. My assumption has been that they had settled into a stable production rate, and that they would stay there.

Now maybe something has changed, and maybe they are going to lower their production rate, but I don't see this layoff as confirmation of that one way or the other.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #88 on: 01/13/2019 12:52 am »
Déjà vu:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35254.0

And we have historical hindsight for what happened afterward. According to WSJ graphs, they went from operating in the black in 2014 to operating in the red in 2015. They had a launch failure within 12 months and 2 in 2 years. You can recover what was lost as the living organism adapts to the loss of a limb, but it will likely take time. It happens to ULA as well. They are having mighty troubles launching their latest Delta IV Heavy. It wouldn't at all surprise me if that is due to hollowing out of the Delta IV team.

If past is prologue, we may be in for a rough 2019/2020.
The CRS-7 issue was inherent in the design, which was finalized and flying long before those layoffs happened.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #89 on: 01/13/2019 10:41 am »
What? They have a HUGE backlog of 1st stage boosters they have to build. Remember Musk said they would build between 30-50 of them before shutting down production. No one in Falcon 9 production should be getting laid off, not unless they were an under-performer.
Actually I think they can lower the mfg staff with the rise in reuse. As long as you have enough boosters in the reuse pipeline, and a US ready to mate. How big a team do you need to mfg a booster in 20 weeks?
Quote from: Coastal Ron
They still need the same number of 2nd stages produced (i.e. one for each launch), which use the same production lines, and with the large backlog of 1st stages I doubt they would make force reduction in the stage production area. Even for Merlin engines they still need new ones for the new stages, though maybe they plan to swap engines across engine-less stages being held in reserve.
Reducing touch labor would suggest they will keep the engines on a stage. Assuming fairing reuse is still a thing I guess the fairings will be mated to whatever US goes up next.
« Last Edit: 01/13/2019 11:08 am by john smith 19 »
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Offline Brian45

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #90 on: 01/13/2019 03:08 pm »
So maybe Elon could offer the impacted workers positions at Tesla?? The Boring company? At least where the skill sets overlap. He seems to be the kind of guy that would do something like that.

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #91 on: 01/13/2019 03:51 pm »
What? They have a HUGE backlog of 1st stage boosters they have to build. Remember Musk said they would build between 30-50 of them before shutting down production. No one in Falcon 9 production should be getting laid off, not unless they were an under-performer.
Actually I think they can lower the mfg staff with the rise in reuse. As long as you have enough boosters in the reuse pipeline, and a US ready to mate. How big a team do you need to mfg a booster in 20 weeks?

That is actually my point, is that they reached their current steady-state production rate probably no later than mid-last year. The first Block 5 flew May 11, 2018, meaning it was produced months beforehand.

So far we have seen in transit at least 10 Block 5 cores, which tells me they have known how to build Block 5 cores for many months. It is possible that they had been waiting to implement new production line equipment that would reduce their need for touch labor, but it is also possible that they are not making any changes to their Falcon 9 production line staffing.

Out of all of the things that SpaceX does, Falcon 9 production is the most steady-state.

Quote from: Coastal Ron
Quote
They still need the same number of 2nd stages produced (i.e. one for each launch), which use the same production lines, and with the large backlog of 1st stages I doubt they would make force reduction in the stage production area. Even for Merlin engines they still need new ones for the new stages, though maybe they plan to swap engines across engine-less stages being held in reserve.
Reducing touch labor would suggest they will keep the engines on a stage. Assuming fairing reuse is still a thing I guess the fairings will be mated to whatever US goes up next.

Where are you getting the assumption that they have made a dramatic reduction in touch labor? That can only come from significant engineering or production line changes - have we any evidence about that?

As to how many stages they build, and whether engines are a commodity or are assigned to a stage, that really depends on a number of factors. If I was presenting options to Shotwell for her to consider, the biggest factors I would need to present plan options would be:

- When does the Falcon 9 production need to end?
- How much money would management allow to be tied up in cores and engines that are not flying?
- What is the yearly projected flight rate for both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy?

Excess inventory is not an asset, it is a liability, so my bias would be to NOT build cores too far in advance of need. And this should not be a big issue since every Falcon 9 & Heavy launch needs a new 2nd stage, which is built on the same production line as the 1st stage. So as long as Falcon 9 & Heavy are flying, they will have a robust production line in operation.

Circling back to this layoff, it is possible that if they decided recently NOT to build cores in advance, and that they would need to reduce production line staffing. But we need to see some evidence of that to confirm if that is the case.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #92 on: 01/13/2019 04:19 pm »
Why does everyone assume that the layoffs were predominantly among engineers and technicians? The reports I have seen look more like they were in things like acquisition.

Offline DistantTemple

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #93 on: 01/13/2019 05:04 pm »
We have just seen a switch from CF to Stainless for the SS/SH. Before that CF was all the rage, and SX was recruiting to support that.
Maybe the big change from CF to stainless goes with a perceived (byEM) slow and careful way of working of those new teams. I expect EM has had a cull of these new teams, which if needed at all, will be for much smaller parts of the SX business. A chunk of this cull could have some commonality with the one at the Starlink team.

However I guess that won't account for 10%. I suspect there were extra staff on the F9 and Dragon teams to manage interface with NASA (during development). It appears this work is nearing completion, and these roles will be reduced. Since similar roles are not currently relevant to SS/SH (yet!!!) these personnel may be let go. And Perhaps Starlink itself is progressing so different skillets are needed. Are the satellites anywhere near production? etc.
« Last Edit: 01/13/2019 05:07 pm by DistantTemple »
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Offline Slarty1080

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #94 on: 01/13/2019 05:26 pm »
Then there's the change in EDL so all the enphasis on PICAX etc is not needed now or not needed nearly as much. Then there's the Merlin development and production teams. I would have thought they would be thinned quite a lot.
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Offline eeergo

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #95 on: 01/13/2019 06:59 pm »

For a heavily facilitated company (Factories, assembly lines, a square mile test facility in Texas,...) a more realistic overhead multiplier for salaries is Pi.


The cost of employing someone is a lot more than simply gross pay plus cost of benefits.  [...]
A very rough estimate says take total compensation (pay plus benefits) and double it, and that's consistent with my observations of burden rates (effectively, the per-hour cost of an employee accounting for everything above) in various companies. 


This article (taking sources from this other one) made me think back to these discussions: SpaceX is said to have taken a $2.5B annual revenue, from which salaries, operations and some development are drawn, while the company's accountants don't factor in some R&D (otherwise the balance would be red) and do add pre-payments by clients.


Divided by 7000, that makes ~$350k, and obviously just some part of that revenue is being spent on payroll. So I'm guessing the cost of "<~$200k/employee" I estimated was actually pretty accurate, and definitely not closer to $400-700k.

Again, my argument leant more on "seeing the bigger picture" of SpaceX's recent trajectory, but I thought this figure could also be illustrative.
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Offline Cinder

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #96 on: 01/13/2019 07:23 pm »
- Finally, the largest elephant that almost doesn't fit the room, and maybe is being mistaken as a room's wall: the ultimate justification for all this, the Mars architecture (and purpose): it was very much an experimental, almost conceptual, "Skunk-work" understaffed project until a few months ago (completion of D2's development).
Now it is claimed to be the main focus of attention -- but it's obvious the technical design is very much in early development, having just been head-to-toe upended a few weeks ago.
Not to mention the only solid development it has to show is sub-scale developmental models of an extremely promising engine, which was nevertheless started many years ago when said architecture wasn't even defined. This, followed by animations of a complex system the likes of which was never even attempted anywhere before, a substandard developmental tank whose design was abandoned, and -yes, I'm sorry to put it this way but someone has to say it- an empty, shiny, cheaply-constructed look-at-me billboard Starship in the middle of a muddy field.

Maybe this layoff is just as inevitable and healthy (for SpaceX) as 2014's, and at that time there were also big looming grey clouds in the horizon which were blown away; or maybe this time is different - but there's some reading between the lines to be done.
CMWIW:

Still seems like a glass half empty.  If space is hard and Mars is commensurately harder than cislunar or LEO, then "inevitable" mistakes should number respectively to each. 

SpaceX (and contemporaries) are in the enviable position of hindsight to previous attempts' failures, and SpaceX in particular seems (IMHO) to tend towards stepping forward fast enough to catch itself as often as possible when it does trip on one of the unknowable unknowns between here and Mars.  Meaning to include even the COPV accident and any other setback not directly Mars-related, since everything SpaceX does is for Mars.  A fast iteration that dips toes in every pool and occasionally gets burned before finding the pool that's just right, is better than more fully committing only to find out much later that a stainless Starship would have been better than composite, or whatever risks the BFH will retire:  both expected and unforeseen. 

GH was as much of an ugly duckling as BFH, but it had its purpose and why not make such "billboard" look good while it does something it *must* do anyway?  Every opportunity to look good when public attention can't be avoided, is an opportunity worth exploiting -- presuming we agree that public perception is significantly naive and easily misled, with direct electoral consequences, then it stands to reason that that public perception should be led rather than left to its own naive perception/speculation especially when their normal informational diet includes an MSM that gets it wrong half the time, and the occasional voluntary disinformation campaign by entrenched interests.

Ugly NewSpace MSM articles, horror stories about what living in space is like, etc, are not a negligible hazard on the way to making the solar system (starting with Mars, or whatever) the habitable space is should be for us.

Kinda getting off topic.  It does play a pertinent role though: I would argue that SpaceX are running against a slow but steady countdown to something derailing their campaign to Mars and planet Earth having another decade or more to wait before another effort happens that's comparable to SpaceX's, in terms of momentum.  Keeping the odds in their favor by "leaning out" 10% against the competition and that invisible timer seems like worthwhile diligence.

Likewise dressing up BFH even before it's got anywhere to go.  Why leave *anything* on the table?

I think we’re seeing the start of a multi year campaign beginning with Starhopper. In 2019, when a SpaceX launches the first astronauts into Space from US soil in 8 years, there will be a big upsurge in attention. Kids starting college were in fifth grade the last time there was a crewed US launch and this time everything will seem different.

Elon Musk and SpaceX are comparatively obscure now next to what they’ll be after SpaceX starts launching people. Elon will be ready when the new level of attention kicks it. The FSS on 39a will be clad in translucent panels and I’m guessing get cool new lighting to take advantage. The spacesuits, the setting, will be ready for their closeup. That surge will be directed to the even more exciting things that are coming soon. Starhopper is both a test rig like grasshopper and a very cool looking promise of things to come.

Before Elon even founded SpaceX his first idea was just to spend a lot of money on launching a sort of art project to Mars to stimulate more popular interest in space. He’s always been aware of image and excitement.

Like all his projects, I think this one isn’t dependent on some precise chain of events. It’s antifragile. SpaceX will build a broad base of enthusiastic support for the Starship. He doesn’t need to compare it to SLS/Orion. Other people will.

He just has to make it seem real and coming soon.

« Last Edit: 01/13/2019 07:57 pm by Cinder »
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Online Coastal Ron

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #97 on: 01/13/2019 07:39 pm »
Why does everyone assume that the layoffs were predominantly among engineers and technicians? The reports I have seen look more like they were in things like acquisition.

Any more details you can share, or can you point to a source for that?
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Offline niwax

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #98 on: 01/13/2019 10:26 pm »
Why does everyone assume that the layoffs were predominantly among engineers and technicians? The reports I have seen look more like they were in things like acquisition.

Any more details you can share, or can you point to a source for that?

https://twitter.com/danahull/status/1084588941821411328
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Offline IntoTheVoid

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #99 on: 01/13/2019 11:18 pm »
Déjà vu:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35254.0

And we have historical hindsight for what happened afterward. According to WSJ graphs, they went from operating in the black in 2014 to operating in the red in 2015. They had a launch failure within 12 months and 2 in 2 years. You can recover what was lost as the living organism adapts to the loss of a limb, but it will likely take time. It happens to ULA as well. They are having mighty troubles launching their latest Delta IV Heavy. It wouldn't at all surprise me if that is due to hollowing out of the Delta IV team.

If past is prologue, we may be in for a rough 2019/2020.
The layoffs you reference were posted about on 23 Jul 2014, so there was one launch failure, 11 months later, and still only one, two years after the layoffs.
They also went from 7 launches in the 2 years before the layoff, to 17 launches in the 2 years after, including the failure.
They went from 0 landed rockets in the 2 years before, to 5 landed rockets in the 2 years after, including 2 that were later reflown.
They went from 16 unsuccessful static fire, or launch attempts in the 2 years prior, to 8 unsuccessful static fire, or launch attempts in the 2 years after, in spite of more than twice the number of launches.

Not as doomsday as presented.
Numbers manually counted from the NSF Manifest Thread and the NSF Launch Log.

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #100 on: 01/14/2019 01:35 am »
Why does everyone assume that the layoffs were predominantly among engineers and technicians? The reports I have seen look more like they were in things like acquisition.

Any more details you can share, or can you point to a source for that?

I assume he's going by reddit, a few laid off employee revealed their position, I think there's a manager from acquisition, someone from supply chain, a NDT technician, a machinist, and a driver. The composition fits bloomberg's article, seems like it's mostly technician and support personnel.

Offline MechE31

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #101 on: 01/14/2019 02:11 am »
Why does everyone assume that the layoffs were predominantly among engineers and technicians? The reports I have seen look more like they were in things like acquisition.

Any more details you can share, or can you point to a source for that?

I assume he's going by reddit, a few laid off employee revealed their position, I think there's a manager from acquisition, someone from supply chain, a NDT technician, a machinist, and a driver. The composition fits bloomberg's article, seems like it's mostly technician and support personnel.

While I don't have insight into overall numbers, I know of several engineers who were let go.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #102 on: 01/14/2019 12:56 pm »
This is not surprising, I thought for sometime that the success of Block 5 would reduce the number of people needed to build flight hardware.

Also, companies do these things sometimes.  Doing some house cleaning, get some costs down and set up for the next steps like Starlink and BFR.

It's unfortunate for the 577 people, but they'll have great resumes in a good job market in LA.

Needing a copy of 'Tales of Suspense #39'

Offline ncb1397

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #103 on: 01/14/2019 01:37 pm »
This is not surprising, I thought for sometime that the success of Block 5 would reduce the number of people needed to build flight hardware.

Also, companies do these things sometimes.  Doing some house cleaning, get some costs down and set up for the next steps like Starlink and BFR.

It's unfortunate for the 577 people, but they'll have great resumes in a good job market in LA.

The only exception to the WARN act that some what fits is the following:

Quote
(A) An employer may order a plant closing or mass layoff before the conclusion of the 60-day period if the closing or mass layoff is caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable as of the time that notice would have been required.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/29/2102

or

Quote
(d) Determinations with respect to employment loss
For purposes of this section, in determining whether a plant closing or mass layoff has occurred or will occur, employment losses for 2 or more groups at a single site of employment, each of which is less than the minimum number of employees specified in section 2101(a)(2) or (3) of this title but which in the aggregate exceed that minimum number, and which occur within any 90-day period shall be considered to be a plant closing or mass layoff unless the employer demonstrates that the employment losses are the result of separate and distinct actions and causes and are not an attempt by the employer to evade the requirements of this chapter.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/29/2102

For instance, they could claim that half these loses were due to not getting an air force LSA contract, and the other half due to not meeting the targeted amount of a recent fundraising round. As each layoff tranche is under 499 employees, the WARN act doesn't apply.

Not sure how much this would fly, which explains the 8 week back pay. This essentially fulfills the WARN act as it distributes the penalty to the employees.
« Last Edit: 01/14/2019 01:41 pm by ncb1397 »

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #104 on: 01/14/2019 01:48 pm »
This is not surprising, I thought for sometime that the success of Block 5 would reduce the number of people needed to build flight hardware.

Also, companies do these things sometimes.  Doing some house cleaning, get some costs down and set up for the next steps like Starlink and BFR.

It's unfortunate for the 577 people, but they'll have great resumes in a good job market in LA.

The only exception to the WARN act that some what fits is the following:

Quote
(A) An employer may order a plant closing or mass layoff before the conclusion of the 60-day period if the closing or mass layoff is caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable as of the time that notice would have been required.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/29/2102

or

Quote
(d) Determinations with respect to employment loss
For purposes of this section, in determining whether a plant closing or mass layoff has occurred or will occur, employment losses for 2 or more groups at a single site of employment, each of which is less than the minimum number of employees specified in section 2101(a)(2) or (3) of this title but which in the aggregate exceed that minimum number, and which occur within any 90-day period shall be considered to be a plant closing or mass layoff unless the employer demonstrates that the employment losses are the result of separate and distinct actions and causes and are not an attempt by the employer to evade the requirements of this chapter.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/29/2102

For instance, they could claim that half these loses were due to not getting an air force LSA contract, and the other half due to not meeting the targeted amount of a recent fundraising round. As each layoff tranche is under 499 employees, the WARN act doesn't apply.

Not sure how much this would fly, which explains the 8 week back pay. This essentially fulfills the WARN act as it distributes the penalty to the employees.

With 60 days severance WARN doesn't matter. It's much better for the employees this way because they get 60 days to job search full time while paid, instead of having to work or pretend to work while they are really looking for their next job.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #105 on: 01/14/2019 01:53 pm »

With 60 days severance WARN doesn't matter.

I disagree. The 60 days severance is due to the WARN act. It's like saying the sun doesn't matter, because we have sunlight.

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #106 on: 01/14/2019 02:02 pm »

With 60 days severance WARN doesn't matter.

I disagree. The 60 days severance is due to the WARN act. It's like saying the sun doesn't matter, because we have sunlight.

With 60 days severance the 60-days warning time required in WARN doesn't matter.

Online Rondaz

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #107 on: 01/14/2019 02:48 pm »
SpaceX lays off 10% of staff by email as Falcon Heavy, BFR, and Starlink ramp up

ByEric Ralph Posted on January 14, 2019

https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-10-percent-workforce-fired-bfr-starlink-launches/?mc_cid=a5ddef339c&mc_eid=60eb267dc3

Offline docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #108 on: 01/14/2019 03:46 pm »
Quote
Employees attended an all-hands meeting where they were told in frank terms that a major portion of the company – those deemed to be lower performers – would be laid off within 24 hours. All 7000+ employees were told around the same time.

<rbh_ON> [retired boss hat]

And why is this considered a problem?

<rbh_OFF>
« Last Edit: 01/14/2019 03:49 pm by docmordrid »
DM

Online Rondaz

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #109 on: 01/14/2019 03:51 pm »
SpaceX Layoffs Include 577 Positions at California Headquarters

By Dana Hull January 13, 2019, 1:11 PM PST

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-13/spacex-layoffs-include-577-positions-at-california-headquarters

Offline philw1776

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #110 on: 01/14/2019 04:08 pm »
Quote
Employees attended an all-hands meeting where they were told in frank terms that a major portion of the company – those deemed to be lower performers – would be laid off within 24 hours. All 7000+ employees were told around the same time.

<rbh_ON> [retired boss hat]

And why is this considered a problem?

<rbh_OFF>

i don't have a problem with how this was done.  Less public walk of shame (undeserved) for those severed.

Best wishes to the now former SpaceX employees.  Hope the local job market for their skills is good.  If the talk that SpaceX does not pay top dollar is true, they'll look like a bargain to prospective employers.
« Last Edit: 01/14/2019 04:10 pm by philw1776 »
"It'll bang right out!"

Online Chris Bergin

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #111 on: 01/14/2019 08:30 pm »
Per it being more than 10 percent as people are claiming.

Below is an account run by SpaceXers.

https://twitter.com/spacexfc/status/1084904897458229249
« Last Edit: 01/14/2019 08:31 pm by Chris Bergin »

Online Chris Bergin

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #112 on: 01/14/2019 08:54 pm »
We were hearing about long lines and security telling people on a list to turn around and check their e-mails on the East Coast side.

Now reported by Florida Today:


https://twitter.com/Florida_Today/status/1084910917735698432
« Last Edit: 01/14/2019 08:54 pm by Chris Bergin »

Online Rondaz

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #113 on: 01/14/2019 09:33 pm »
SpaceX may have laid off 10% in Hawthorne, but it's hiring in Redmond and Cape Canaveral

6 hours ago by Joshua Fruhlinger

https://media.thinknum.com/articles/spacex-lays-off-10-in-hawthorne-but-hiring-is-up-in-redmond/

Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #114 on: 01/14/2019 10:33 pm »
SpaceX may have laid off 10% in Hawthorne, but it's hiring in Redmond and Cape Canaveral

6 hours ago by Joshua Fruhlinger

https://media.thinknum.com/articles/spacex-lays-off-10-in-hawthorne-but-hiring-is-up-in-redmond/

That article also lists over 200 job openings at Hawthorne as of yesterday, so the caravan rolls on, with perhaps some lower-performers gone and a slightly different skills mix.

Offline HVM

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #115 on: 01/15/2019 10:07 am »
But remember:

"United Launch Alliance plans to cut up to 875 jobs, or about one-quarter of its workforce, before the end of 2017"

"ArianeGroup to shed 2,300 employees as Ariane 6 nears completion"


So do New Space -firms employ more and did SpX success cut or add overall space flight related jobs?

Offline Norm38

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #116 on: 01/15/2019 12:30 pm »
At my previous company (major telecom), the last round of layoffs I witnessed was handled by everyone getting a meeting invite.  Half in one conference room, half in another on the other side of the plant.  Meetings scheduled concurrently.

But because of managers whispering to certain employees (you're safe, etc.), everyone immediately knew which meeting they were in.

I don't know if going home to wait for an email is any better, but it can't be any worse.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #117 on: 01/15/2019 12:51 pm »
Not all bad news.

VECTOR (@vectorspacesys) tweeted at 2:40 PM on Tue, Jan 15, 2019:
We're Hiring! Do you have the right stuff to become a Vectornaut? Several openings at all Vector locations including; San Jose, CA, Huntington Beach, CA and our Tucson, AZ headquarters. Find your next career here: https://t.co/3ImMp5nk8R #NewSpaceRace #Vectornauts https://t.co/LRR5NYkmme
(https://twitter.com/vectorspacesys/status/1084988636167172096?s=03)

Offline WindnWar

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #118 on: 01/15/2019 01:06 pm »
Where I work after the recession in 08 we went through furloughs, salary reductions and reductions in staff in order to keep the business afloat. None of it was fun, and we all saw people we liked let go. However it was handled well, people were informed privately and given decent severance packages including benefits to help as much as possible. We still exist now because of it, while several of our competitors went bankrupt or were forced to do massive cuts later on due to debt they racked up back then. We filled as many of the cuts by attrition as we could, simply not filling open positions unless there was no one on staff that could transition and do the job.

It's never a fun process but sadly it is necessary at times.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #119 on: 01/15/2019 01:16 pm »
Less employees is the result of cheaper launches.  I get that.

Firing people by email, that is pretty cowardly.  There is no good way to let people go, but fired by email has to be one of the worst.
Needing a copy of 'Tales of Suspense #39'

Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #120 on: 01/15/2019 01:38 pm »
Less employees is the result of cheaper launches.  I get that.

Firing people by email, that is pretty cowardly.  There is no good way to let people go, but fired by email has to be one of the worst.
It used to be done by sticking an actual "pink slip" notice inside your paycheck (back when paychecks came in actual envelopes).  I'm not sure that an email process for a mass layoff is much different. 

 - Ed Kyle

Offline jpo234

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #121 on: 01/15/2019 04:06 pm »
Less employees is the result of cheaper launches.  I get that.

Firing people by email, that is pretty cowardly.  There is no good way to let people go, but fired by email has to be one of the worst.

Well, if it was me, I would prefer to deal with the news at home without a "walk of shame" at the (now former) workplace and security hovering behind me to make sure I don't do something stupid.
« Last Edit: 01/15/2019 04:53 pm by jpo234 »
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline philw1776

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #122 on: 01/15/2019 05:38 pm »
Less employees is the result of cheaper launches.  I get that.

Firing people by email, that is pretty cowardly.  There is no good way to let people go, but fired by email has to be one of the worst.

Well, if it was me, I would prefer to deal with the news at home without a "walk of shame" at the (now former) workplace and security hovering behind me to make sure I don't do something stupid.

Agreed.
I always felt that exposing those who just lost their jobs and who may be in shock and confusion to the queries of "What happened?" by their peers or conversely peers looking away avoiding them was additional torture.
I'd talk to people we'd let go individually but that is no solace when your income stream suddenly vanishes and you have to head home with the news. 
"It'll bang right out!"

Online Johnnyhinbos

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #123 on: 01/15/2019 07:31 pm »
Less employees is the result of cheaper launches.  I get that.

Firing people by email, that is pretty cowardly.  There is no good way to let people go, but fired by email has to be one of the worst.
Well, if you were a company that had ITAR level technology, and you needed to let go some 700 people, how would you handle it to ensure that sensitive material / data doesn't walk out the door with a disgruntled employee?



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Offline DistantTemple

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #124 on: 01/15/2019 08:08 pm »
If there was a significant leak of ITAR material, I  guess there would be regularity issues, and investigations, looking for a flawed process, or even illegal negligence by SX. (I do think its horribly harsh although there may not be much of an alternative) 
We can always grow new new dendrites. Reach out and make connections and your world will burst with new insights. Then repose in consciousness.

Offline hartspace

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #125 on: 01/15/2019 08:38 pm »
Firing people by email, that is pretty cowardly.  There is no good way to let people go, but fired by email has to be one of the worst.
How about getting notified of your layoff by phone. While on extended business travel for the company. The week before Christmas.  And your last day was scheduled to be 1 week after you ended your trip.  That's how it happened to me (although my final day got deferred until 2 months after I got back).  There really is no good way to get fired.

Online Johnnyhinbos

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #126 on: 01/15/2019 08:39 pm »
I believe people aren't getting fired. They're getting laid off. There's a difference between the two.
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Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #127 on: 01/15/2019 08:55 pm »
Less employees is the result of cheaper launches.  I get that.

Firing people by email, that is pretty cowardly.  There is no good way to let people go, but fired by email has to be one of the worst.
Well, if you were a company that had ITAR level technology, and you needed to let go some 700 people, how would you handle it to ensure that sensitive material / data doesn't walk out the door with a disgruntled employee?

I would expect that security would search my stuff of the way out like they are supposed to.

I agree, firing/layoffs whether by phone or e-mail are cowardly. An employer should look the person in the eye when laying them off. Making the excuse that "it is faster" or easier just excuses cowardness.

Offline AC in NC

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #128 on: 01/15/2019 09:06 pm »
For my part, a SpaceX layoff is a mildy interesting topic.  The manner in which SpaceX performs a layoff is a mildly annoying topic.  YMMY.   ;)  Commenting on comments about the manner of the layoff is really annoying and for that I apologize.
« Last Edit: 01/15/2019 09:07 pm by AC in NC »

Online Johnnyhinbos

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #129 on: 01/15/2019 09:07 pm »
Less employees is the result of cheaper launches.  I get that.

Firing people by email, that is pretty cowardly.  There is no good way to let people go, but fired by email has to be one of the worst.
Well, if you were a company that had ITAR level technology, and you needed to let go some 700 people, how would you handle it to ensure that sensitive material / data doesn't walk out the door with a disgruntled employee?

I would expect that security would search my stuff of the way out like they are supposed to.

I agree, firing/layoffs whether by phone or e-mail are cowardly. An employer should look the person in the eye when laying them off. Making the excuse that "it is faster" or easier just excuses cowardness.

So would you prefer to receive an email at home with the bad news, or be told during the work day, at work, and then have to walk past your co-workers to get frisked by security. Personally, I would definitely prefer the notification at home method, but your mileage may vary...
« Last Edit: 01/15/2019 09:08 pm by Johnnyhinbos »
John Hanzl. Author, action / adventure www.johnhanzl.com

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #130 on: 01/15/2019 09:08 pm »
I agree, firing/layoffs whether by phone or e-mail are cowardly. An employer should look the person in the eye when laying them off. Making the excuse that "it is faster" or easier just excuses cowardness.

Gwynne and Elon did that at the all-hands meeting before sending everyone home.

Offline inventodoc

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #131 on: 01/15/2019 09:41 pm »
I think the SpaceX style of routinely decimating their workforce and impersonally sending firing/retention emails is immoral and a bad business practice.   Sure, layoffs are sometimes necessary, but the 'tech' world has created a culture of treating workers as chattel; even though they may pay well, they are consumptive of their employees, show now loyalty to their workforce & engender little from their people (although the space mission overcomes this).

Even if you are retained, going through cullings like this has to be extremely demoralizing.   I certainly would never work for a company that behaves like this.   I've avoided Google, Amazon and similar entities for this reason, despite being a prime candidate to work in a decent position there.    I'm not saying to avoid economic realities, I am saying that responsible business value their workforce and treat them as humans should be treated.   This always engendered me with a hard working and loyal labor force.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #132 on: 01/15/2019 09:55 pm »
I think the SpaceX style of routinely decimating their workforce

I don't know.  2% per year seems very tame as far as corporate America goes.
« Last Edit: 01/15/2019 09:59 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline mme

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #133 on: 01/15/2019 10:20 pm »
I think the SpaceX style of routinely decimating their workforce and impersonally sending firing/retention emails is immoral and a bad business practice.   Sure, layoffs are sometimes necessary, but the 'tech' world has created a culture of treating workers as chattel; even though they may pay well, they are consumptive of their employees, show now loyalty to their workforce & engender little from their people (although the space mission overcomes this).

Even if you are retained, going through cullings like this has to be extremely demoralizing.   I certainly would never work for a company that behaves like this.   I've avoided Google, Amazon and similar entities for this reason, despite being a prime candidate to work in a decent position there.    I'm not saying to avoid economic realities, I am saying that responsible business value their workforce and treat them as humans should be treated.   This always engendered me with a hard working and loyal labor force.
In their 16 year history they've had 2 rounds of layoffs I'm aware of. That doesn't seem like "routinely decimating their workforce."  My father worked in aerospace in the 1960s through the 1980s. It was boom and bust back then (so much so he told me to avoid aerospace.  Ironically I got into software.) The SpaceX layoffs were announced in an all hands meeting and I really don't get all this hand wringing over getting notification at home in an email after being told it was coming. Beats getting the "walk of shame" out of the office, IMHO.

Also, as far as WARN goes, I would much rather get a severance than get notice and have to keep working AND look for a new job.

SpaceX works it's employees hard. Nobody takes a job there thinking otherwise. If I were younger I would totally take a job there. That's my personality. Now I'm old and tired so no thank you.

P.S. I too wish ALL companies treated their employees better.
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Offline goretexguy

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #134 on: 01/15/2019 10:25 pm »
I think the SpaceX style of routinely decimating their workforce and impersonally sending firing/retention emails is immoral and a bad business practice.   Sure, layoffs are sometimes necessary, but the 'tech' world has created a culture of treating workers as chattel; even though they may pay well, they are consumptive of their employees, show now loyalty to their workforce & engender little from their people (although the space mission overcomes this).

Even if you are retained, going through cullings like this has to be extremely demoralizing.   I certainly would never work for a company that behaves like this.   I've avoided Google, Amazon and similar entities for this reason, despite being a prime candidate to work in a decent position there.    I'm not saying to avoid economic realities, I am saying that responsible business value their workforce and treat them as humans should be treated.   This always engendered me with a hard working and loyal labor force.

I understand your feelings, but I feel to object to the blanket characterization. I agree that 'reapings' are bad, but other things can be worse.

I'm a software developer (avoiding the term 'engineer' out of respect to the crowd here) with nearly 30 years of experience. I'm now a VP of Technology at a respectable billion-dollar company. People aren't chattel, but the need to keep a business fresh and nimble is an imperative, like oxygen for fire.

In a fast-moving, fast-hiring industry you inevitably get some people who are merely 'just good.' Employee morale is a delicate thing, and I've more frequently seen poor morale when low-performing and hard-to-get-along-with employees are not purged than from layoffs. Working with jerks is a real downer. In some ways, a layoff like this is as much out of respect for the high-performing employees as it is for the bottom line.

Musk, like any other businessman, is focused on results; SpaceX has accomplished amazing things and I'm sure Elon wants to continue delivering. I read into the layoff that very goal.

Related: I can't help but compare the nimbleness of the SpaceX layoff with the difficulty that General Motors or Boeing (let alone Airbus) would have in making a similar cut.

Online Kenp51d

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #135 on: 01/15/2019 10:25 pm »
Agreed, there is a difference. But it still feels the same way, has the same economic effects, and the same looks from now formally co-workers.
But I visited my former employer to get some information, and they asked me back. And nope. No way I was goin to jeopardize my disability knowing personally I could not physically do the job. I would have other wise, I really like working.
So yeah it is different. Some chance to go back maybe later. And there maybe a severance package.

Ken

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Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #136 on: 01/15/2019 11:25 pm »
WARN data for the layoffs in California:

Quote
These are the 577 positions SpaceX is cutting at its headquarters in a major round of layoffs
Dave Mosher and Samantha Lee 27m

Elon Musk's $30 billion rocket company, SpaceX, plans to lay off about 10% of its employees. A government document lists a majority of the positions being terminated.

https://www.businessinsider.com/spacex-layoffs-jobs-terminated-list-california-headquarters-2019-1
« Last Edit: 01/15/2019 11:27 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #137 on: 01/16/2019 12:20 am »
I think the SpaceX style of routinely decimating their workforce and impersonally sending firing/retention emails is immoral and a bad business practice.   Sure, layoffs are sometimes necessary, but the 'tech' world has created a culture of treating workers as chattel; even though they may pay well, they are consumptive of their employees, show now loyalty to their workforce & engender little from their people (although the space mission overcomes this).

Even if you are retained, going through cullings like this has to be extremely demoralizing.   I certainly would never work for a company that behaves like this.   I've avoided Google, Amazon and similar entities for this reason, despite being a prime candidate to work in a decent position there.    I'm not saying to avoid economic realities, I am saying that responsible business value their workforce and treat them as humans should be treated.   This always engendered me with a hard working and loyal labor force.

OK, you would never work for a company that lays off people it doesn't want to have working for it any more.  I am the opposite -- I would not want to work for a company that kept on people forever even if they were no longer the right fit for the company.

To you, it's immoral for a company to cut these people.  To me, it's immoral for a company not to do so.  For the good of everyone, people should not have an assumption of lifetime employment.

People should be free to leave a job whenever they decide it's not a right fit.  When they leave, that can cause a lot of trouble for the company they are leaving, but they still should have that right.  And it works both ways -- the company should have the right to terminate anyone that they decide is no longer the right fit for them, even if it causes problems for that individual.

For either a person to stay at a company when it's not good for the employee or a company to keep an employee that is no longer good for the company is equally bad.

Having companies keep people who are no longer the right fit just drags down all the other stakeholders in the company -- other employees, shareholders, customers, and suppliers -- because the company will not be able to change and improve.  Over time, if lots of companies do this, it will bring down the economy as a whole.  All will suffer.

Online rockets4life97

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #138 on: 01/16/2019 12:37 am »
Somebody is excited that their supervisor is gone.

Offline catdlr

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #139 on: 01/16/2019 03:32 am »
SpaceX is slashing jobs as customers hit pause on big-satellite launches

Los Angeles Times Business Article

Quote
The good news for the laid-off workers is that demand for aerospace workers in Southern California is strong, said Judy Kruger, director of aerospace and advanced transportation at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Major industry employers have had up to 2,000 open positions at any one time, she said.

“Some of them are still scrambling pretty hard to fill their hiring needs,” Kruger said.
Tony De La Rosa

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #140 on: 01/16/2019 05:20 am »

So would you prefer to receive an email at home with the bad news, or be told during the work day, at work, and then have to walk past your co-workers to get frisked by security. Personally, I would definitely prefer the notification at home method, but your mileage may vary...

Have you ever faced lay-off before? I have at a previous job, was fortunate to get a last minute infusion of funding that prevented it. My employer was upfront about the situation, and explained that the issue was not due to my performance but the funding mechanism. And they explained it to my face.

If I were to be let go, I would have wanted to get my personal items, and would imagine SpaceX employees will do so as well. So what does that save, other than a manager cowardly hiding behind an email?

Edit: And for those left, it doesn't instill the greatest confidence in the company waiting around for a termination email that never comes. At that point, some of the brightest and best might think about moving employers to find one more "stable."
« Last Edit: 01/16/2019 05:25 am by Ronsmytheiii »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #141 on: 01/16/2019 05:38 am »

So would you prefer to receive an email at home with the bad news, or be told during the work day, at work, and then have to walk past your co-workers to get frisked by security. Personally, I would definitely prefer the notification at home method, but your mileage may vary...

Have you ever faced lay-off before? I have at a previous job, was fortunate to get a last minute infusion of funding that prevented it. My employer was upfront about the situation, and explained that the issue was not due to my performance but the funding mechanism. And they explained it to my face.

If I were to be let go, I would have wanted to get my personal items, and would imagine SpaceX employees will do so as well. So what does that save, other than a manager cowardly hiding behind an email?

Edit: And for those left, it doesn't instill the greatest confidence in the company waiting around for a termination email that never comes. At that point, some of the brightest and best might think about moving employers to find one more "stable."

Whether it's better to find out at home by e-mail or in person at work is clearly a personal preference.  There are good and bad points to each.  Multiple posters on this site have expressed their opinions both ways.

I find it sad that some people can't respect that different people have different opinions.  Calling it "cowardly" when people clearly honestly disagree is a sad lack of respect for diversity of opinion.

I personally have seen layoffs happen.  The communications chip start-up I worked at was bought just before the 2000 communication bust that followed the dot-com crash.  We had won the market through hard work, but the market suddenly dried up.  The company that bought us (Broadcom) shut down our product line.  Everyone knew layoffs were coming.  Then, people started being called in one-by-one to be told they were being laid off.  Very quickly everyone knew and gathered to await the calls.  Around 90% of the company was laid off.  I wasn't laid off, but I watched most of my coworkers get the call into a meeting room, and everyone knew when they were called that they were being let go.

Since we knew most of the company was being laid off, it wasn't as shameful as it might have been if it was only 10% being let go.  Being publicly revealed to be in the bottom 90% is not nearly as bad as being publicly revealed to be in the bottom 10%.  So, for the SpaceX 10% layoffs, it would be much more humiliating to be publicly laid off at work.

I personally think that the private notification at home is kinder.  I respect that other people disagree.  I just wish that people wouldn't project their own personal preferences on everyone else and assume bad motives for people who made a choice different from the one they would prefer.

EDIT: Clarification: that 90% I'm talking about is 90% of the start-up that Broadcom had recently bought.  It wasn't 90% of Broadcom, which had many other businesses that were doing better at the time.

And it was definitely a traumatic event to go through, both for those let go and those of us who stayed.
« Last Edit: 01/16/2019 05:41 am by ChrisWilson68 »

Offline jpo234

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #142 on: 01/16/2019 07:09 am »
If I were to be let go, I would have wanted to get my personal items, and would imagine SpaceX employees will do so as well. So what does that save, other than a manager cowardly hiding behind an email?

We weren't there, but I don't think this is what happened. There was an all-hands meeting were Gwynne and Elon faced the employees to tell them the bad news. That doesn't meet my definition of "cowardly hiding behind an email".
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline jpo234

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #143 on: 01/16/2019 07:20 am »
WARN data for the layoffs in California:

Quote
These are the 577 positions SpaceX is cutting at its headquarters in a major round of layoffs
Dave Mosher and Samantha Lee 27m

Elon Musk's $30 billion rocket company, SpaceX, plans to lay off about 10% of its employees. A government document lists a majority of the positions being terminated.

https://www.businessinsider.com/spacex-layoffs-jobs-terminated-list-california-headquarters-2019-1

Can we draw some conclusions from these numbers? Are there groups or categories that were disproportionately hit by the layoffs? Technicians seem to stand out, but I don't know what percentage technicians represented before the layoffs.
If technicians were hit hardest, then this seems consistent with a slower pace of production due to reuse.

The thinknum analysis that shows hiring for launches and StarLink would indicate that SpaceX doesn't expect a slowdown in actual launches.
« Last Edit: 01/16/2019 07:34 am by jpo234 »
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #144 on: 01/16/2019 08:38 am »
>
Can we draw some conclusions from these numbers?
>

Further down in the article is a chart showing the most affected areas;

Structures (F9 cores?)
Propulsion (Merlin?)
Composites
CNC

About what you'd expect from the F9 core slowdown and SH/SS moving away from composites.
DM

Online Johnnyhinbos

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #145 on: 01/16/2019 10:19 am »

So would you prefer to receive an email at home with the bad news, or be told during the work day, at work, and then have to walk past your co-workers to get frisked by security. Personally, I would definitely prefer the notification at home method, but your mileage may vary...

Have you ever faced lay-off before? I have at a previous job, was fortunate to get a last minute infusion of funding that prevented it. My employer was upfront about the situation, and explained that the issue was not due to my performance but the funding mechanism. And they explained it to my face.

If I were to be let go, I would have wanted to get my personal items, and would imagine SpaceX employees will do so as well. So what does that save, other than a manager cowardly hiding behind an email?

Edit: And for those left, it doesn't instill the greatest confidence in the company waiting around for a termination email that never comes. At that point, some of the brightest and best might think about moving employers to find one more "stable."
Years ago, when I worked as a broadcast engineer in television post production, a company I worked for one Friday called the entire staff into a meeting and we were all told to go home, that 50% of us would be laid off. Not 10%, but 50%. We were to wait at home for a phone call over the weekend. While the meeting was happening a locksmith was changing the locks.

Laying off a few people is one thing, laying off large numbers of disparate individuals is another all together. Just because you may react one way doesn’t mean everyone will react the same. It’s a harsh reality. We had valuable client master tapes and even more valuable source footage - I was mature enough to understand the tough decision the owner made to do what was done. That decision saved the company for another five years, five years that gave employment to 50% of the original staff who wouldn’t have without that layoff.

(For the record, I was one of the lucky 50% that got the good phone call and ultimately became Chief Engineer).

And similar things happened to several other companies I worked for after that. TV Post was a harsh business in the 90s. That’s why I work with fish now...
John Hanzl. Author, action / adventure www.johnhanzl.com

Offline Cinder

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #146 on: 01/16/2019 12:13 pm »
I think the SpaceX style of routinely decimating their workforce and impersonally sending firing/retention emails is immoral and a bad business practice.   Sure, layoffs are sometimes necessary, but the 'tech' world has created a culture of treating workers as chattel; even though they may pay well, they are consumptive of their employees, show now loyalty to their workforce & engender little from their people (although the space mission overcomes this).

Even if you are retained, going through cullings like this has to be extremely demoralizing.   I certainly would never work for a company that behaves like this.   I've avoided Google, Amazon and similar entities for this reason, despite being a prime candidate to work in a decent position there.    I'm not saying to avoid economic realities, I am saying that responsible business value their workforce and treat them as humans should be treated.   This always engendered me with a hard working and loyal labor force.

OK, you would never work for a company that lays off people it doesn't want to have working for it any more.  I am the opposite -- I would not want to work for a company that kept on people forever even if they were no longer the right fit for the company.

To you, it's immoral for a company to cut these people.  To me, it's immoral for a company not to do so.  For the good of everyone, people should not have an assumption of lifetime employment.

People should be free to leave a job whenever they decide it's not a right fit.  When they leave, that can cause a lot of trouble for the company they are leaving, but they still should have that right.  And it works both ways -- the company should have the right to terminate anyone that they decide is no longer the right fit for them, even if it causes problems for that individual.

For either a person to stay at a company when it's not good for the employee or a company to keep an employee that is no longer good for the company is equally bad.

Having companies keep people who are no longer the right fit just drags down all the other stakeholders in the company -- other employees, shareholders, customers, and suppliers -- because the company will not be able to change and improve.  Over time, if lots of companies do this, it will bring down the economy as a whole.  All will suffer.
Further down the same vein.  SpaceX is the opposite of a make-work business.
What is the motivation in treating employees better?  Some humane value.  What is the value of any corporation?  To create wealth, and at the very ultimate end to eliminate scarcity; that's the very end goal.  The business is a means to that end, even if ultimately its contribution is infinitesimal.
Is it realistic to have varied distribution of all business on that spectrum, or should they all be agnostic to that dimension, either self-serving (strictly profit oriented) and/or make-work providers?  The spectrum of convergence between business and "human" ideal.  It sounds naive except it actually does boil down to that -- inevitably, in every single case.

Germaine to the topic: it stands to reason (ethical reason) that at least one or a few businesses set in stone their mission at the human end of that spectrum.  For instance if the business makes it their goal to make humans multiplanetary.  So it would be nonsensical to simultaneously recognize the human values of both that business mission and of those employees' quality of life (in a nutshell), but to only argue for one of those.

Especially when the former, in SpaceX's case (ostensibly), is a greater good than a few employees who more likely than not will recover good employment in due time, and more so when SpaceX is heading into its crucible.  So it would only multiply the importance of SpaceX's success, to weigh the human dimension along with the textbook business dimension of the circumstances now and until the BFS/Starlink/etc systems prove out.

That you don't get a job at SpaceX or arguably any Musk company unless you accept being overworked for the sake of those inherent mission goals, is the exact same thing, as accepting you may not work there anymore if your position doesn't serve those same mission goals you accepted in the first place.  Otherwise SpaceX/etc are effectively just make-work factories. 

I was going to articulate a younger and less insightful and less spaceflight related experience than ChrisWilson's, but it's almost identical and he said it better than I would've. 
It all goes hand in hand.  Either you believe in what you do because of why you do it, or you don't.  Most people who have trouble with losing their job is because they weren't on the same page as the corporate mission/culture in the first place. 

If SpaceX succeeds in jail-breaking us from Earth, this was worth it.  There'll be more spaceflight jobs, sooner.

TLDR  This is like Pascal's wager.  Lucky us, we don't have to wait that long.
« Last Edit: 01/16/2019 12:20 pm by Cinder »
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Offline laszlo

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #147 on: 01/16/2019 12:51 pm »
What is the motivation in treating employees better?  Some humane value. 
Actually, improved productivity and profits. If those don't result, the humane treatment quickly disappears.

...it stands to reason...
Usually indicates fuzzy logic and incomplete argument to follow.


If SpaceX succeeds in jail-breaking us from Earth, this was worth it.  There'll be more spaceflight jobs, sooner.

In other words, the end justifies the means, regardless of the human, financial or environmental cost.

As far as I can see, the outrage against the layoffs is a sense of actual or vicarious betrayal. People assume that when one works hard and makes great personal sacrifices, one deserves continued membership in the tribe. A layoff violates the assumed bargain.

The problem, if this is indeed the case, is that the employee hired in under mistaken assumptions. The job was not tribal membership, regardless of all the corporate hooraw. It was a job. The only thing people can expect in return for everything is their latest paycheck and benefits. If they understand and accept that fact, and prepare financially for instant termination as soon as they are no longer convenient for the company, layoffs would not be as traumatic.

Note that this is generic, not specific to SpaceX. This is the current state of capitalism in much of the world, and depressing as it may be, employees need to recognize it and adapt.
« Last Edit: 01/16/2019 12:52 pm by laszlo »

Offline Cinder

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #148 on: 01/16/2019 01:43 pm »
I don't think I can refute that without derailing the topic. 
It's faulty in itself and in understanding what I wrote.  Saved a draft reply for if/where there's room for it.
« Last Edit: 01/16/2019 01:44 pm by Cinder »
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Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #149 on: 01/16/2019 01:56 pm »
What is the motivation in treating employees better?  Some humane value. 
Actually, improved productivity and profits. If those don't result, the humane treatment quickly disappears.

...it stands to reason...
Usually indicates fuzzy logic and incomplete argument to follow.


If SpaceX succeeds in jail-breaking us from Earth, this was worth it.  There'll be more spaceflight jobs, sooner.

In other words, the end justifies the means, regardless of the human, financial or environmental cost.

As far as I can see, the outrage against the layoffs is a sense of actual or vicarious betrayal. People assume that when one works hard and makes great personal sacrifices, one deserves continued membership in the tribe. A layoff violates the assumed bargain.

The problem, if this is indeed the case, is that the employee hired in under mistaken assumptions. The job was not tribal membership, regardless of all the corporate hooraw. It was a job. The only thing people can expect in return for everything is their latest paycheck and benefits. If they understand and accept that fact, and prepare financially for instant termination as soon as they are no longer convenient for the company, layoffs would not be as traumatic.

Note that this is generic, not specific to SpaceX. This is the current state of capitalism in much of the world, and depressing as it may be, employees need to recognize it and adapt.

That's a bit cynical. Companies are run by people, and most of them are capable of empathizing with their employees. Generally companies try pretty hard to keep good employees busy, and don't lay them off at the drop of a hat.

People that hire on to a company that is more likely to lay people off generally expect something for taking that risk. Either work experience that makes you more valuable to other companies, or simply better pay and benefits than other companies. Or more intangible things like helping the company succeed at a mission that one considers important.

Offline IntoTheVoid

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #150 on: 01/16/2019 01:58 pm »
https://www.businessinsider.com/spacex-layoffs-jobs-terminated-list-california-headquarters-2019-1

Can we draw some conclusions from these numbers? Are there groups or categories that were disproportionately hit by the layoffs?
I think the 6 Cooks were disproportionately affected, and we may now be inundated with even more dropped and rattling silverware during the webcasts.

Edit - Unless those were the people let go...  :o
« Last Edit: 01/16/2019 02:00 pm by IntoTheVoid »

Offline deptrai

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #151 on: 01/16/2019 03:09 pm »
None of the persons I interact with were cut.  This includes Propulsion, Manufacturing, Materials and Procurement.  It was a little easier to find a parking spot when I visited yesterday.

Offline RonM

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #152 on: 01/16/2019 05:09 pm »
Sometimes businesses have to reduce staff because the company's requirements change. We see that with Block 5 reusability and moving to SS/SH.

I was part of a big layoff a few years ago. The company decided to move to web-based apps, overseas help desk, and some "cloud" apps and storage. They no longer needed a large in-house IT department. Sure, it sucked being told on a conference call I was out of a job, but it made sense. I wasn't working on any new projects and was keeping busy by helping second level support. I knew my time was up.

The company gave us 30 days to help the reorg transition and a large severance package for incentive. They were about as nice and professional as they could under the circumstances.

Unfortunately, SpaceX went the IT company route of immediate dismissal, but that's common in tech industries today. I guess everyone has to suffer because of the possible damage a disgruntled employee can do.

Offline AC in NC

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #153 on: 01/16/2019 05:22 pm »
Much of the late discussion is only very tenuously topical and trends toward "political/religious" quagmire.


Online rockets4life97

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #154 on: 01/16/2019 08:42 pm »
I'm starting to think the layoff could go hand in hand with the decision to not move ahead with the San Pedro factory. Some of these folks could have been transitioning over there. Now they might need to hire new folks in a different location. Easier to do that then ask (and pay people) to move.

Offline rsdavis9

Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #155 on: 01/16/2019 08:47 pm »
Or they had 2 development paths.
CFRP in San Pedro
Stainless Steel.

They recently hired a water tank company to make a spaceship in about 3 weeks.
Guess who wins the work.
Hopefully the fast and cheap all metal design works and gets usable payload to orbit.
With ELV best efficiency was the paradigm. The new paradigm is reusable, good enough, and commonality of design.
Same engines. Design once. Same vehicle. Design once. Reusable. Build once.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #156 on: 01/17/2019 02:27 am »
Or they had 2 development paths.
CFRP in San Pedro
Stainless Steel.

They recently hired a water tank company to make a spaceship in about 3 weeks.
Guess who wins the work.
Hopefully the fast and cheap all metal design works and gets usable payload to orbit.
Except the orbital spacecraft won't be built by a water tank company. It'll be built like Atlas tanks but with internal structure whose only real purpose is to prevent collapse when there is zero relative pressure inside.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline JamesH65

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #157 on: 01/17/2019 10:09 am »
Or they had 2 development paths.
CFRP in San Pedro
Stainless Steel.

They recently hired a water tank company to make a spaceship in about 3 weeks.
Guess who wins the work.
Hopefully the fast and cheap all metal design works and gets usable payload to orbit.
Except the orbital spacecraft won't be built by a water tank company. It'll be built like Atlas tanks but with internal structure whose only real purpose is to prevent collapse when there is zero relative pressure inside.

Citation, or personal opinion?

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #158 on: 01/17/2019 01:02 pm »
Or they had 2 development paths.
CFRP in San Pedro
Stainless Steel.

They recently hired a water tank company to make a spaceship in about 3 weeks.
Guess who wins the work.
Hopefully the fast and cheap all metal design works and gets usable payload to orbit.
Except the orbital spacecraft won't be built by a water tank company. It'll be built like Atlas tanks but with internal structure whose only real purpose is to prevent collapse when there is zero relative pressure inside.

Citation, or personal opinion?

Quote from: Elon Musk
Stainless steel is correct, but different mixture of alloys & new architecture. Unlike Atlas, Starship is buckling stable on launchpad even when unpressurized.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1076595190658265088
« Last Edit: 01/17/2019 01:02 pm by Elmar Moelzer »

Online Llian Rhydderch

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #159 on: 01/18/2019 02:40 am »
Quote
As far as I can see, the outrage against the layoffs is a sense of actual or vicarious betrayal. People assume that when one works hard and makes great personal sacrifices, one deserves continued membership in the tribe. A layoff violates the assumed bargain.

How many of us feel the bargain ought to be only one way? 

If I, the employee, "works hard and makes great personal sacrifices", then the company "owes me" and "violates the bargain" if I am laid off.

But if I, the employee, work for a company that has worked hard to offer me a great position, and met every bargain on their side over a period of time in exchange for my employment, then I feel I have not "violated the bargain" and "I don't owe them anything in particular" if I tell them I'm quitting and leave them.

Why the asymmetry?

Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
"You would actually save yourself time and effort if you were to use evidence and logic to make your points instead of wrapping yourself in the royal mantle of authority.  The approach only works on sheep, not inquisitive, intelligent people."

Offline Davidthefat

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #160 on: 01/18/2019 02:57 am »
Quote
As far as I can see, the outrage against the layoffs is a sense of actual or vicarious betrayal. People assume that when one works hard and makes great personal sacrifices, one deserves continued membership in the tribe. A layoff violates the assumed bargain.

How many of us feel the bargain ought to be only one way? 

If I, the employee, "works hard and makes great personal sacrifices", then the company "owes me" and "violates the bargain" if I am laid off.

But if I, the employee, work for a company that has worked hard to offer me a great position, and met every bargain on their side over a period of time in exchange for my employment, then I feel I have not "violated the bargain" and "I don't owe them anything in particular" if I tell them I'm quitting and leave them.

Why the asymmetry?



That's personal opinion. Many people do have guilt/inhibitions about leaving a company and team if they find a new opportunity.

Online spacenut

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #161 on: 01/18/2019 03:02 am »
I was working at a factory, working my way through college, when they had a big layoff.  It went strictly by seniority.  I was a quality control inspector and got demoted to keep working.  At least I had a job in a bad economy. 

Offline AC in NC

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #162 on: 01/18/2019 03:27 am »
I was working at a factory, working my way through college, when they had a big layoff.  It went strictly by seniority.  I was a quality control inspector and got demoted to keep working.  At least I had a job in a bad economy.

In college, I worked through a temp agency at a printing company in Newton, NC called Meredith Burda.  They recently sold for $500M to RH Donnelly.  Back then they printed KMart Circulars, Fingerhut Catalogs, Grocery Store Weekly Ads, and such.  It was shift work where you rotated and I think I worked 1st and 2nd shift during that 6 weeks.  One of the jobs was to sort the Fingerhut catalogs by Zip Code into Mail Bags.  To keep from going crazy I would mentally sing Alice's Restaurant to myself repeatedly.

For the Grocery adds there was a machine to fold them.  For the catalogs, you would get pallets of sheets that had already been folded a certain way and you had to "jog" them (kind of fluff them so they wouldn't stick together) and then insert them in a machine so that one by one down the line they would all be pulled together to make the catalog.  Back to those pallets.  The sections were stacked in layers and the layers had separator sheets which were big multipage sheets of the porn mag covers they printed somewhere else in the plant.  That was pretty cool.

And the morale of the story ....     :-\     This is like the 43rd and the next is the 44th off-topic post in this thread.  Most of them in the last two pages.  Probably not even worth trying to salvage at this point.  I wouldn't want to sort through the mess.  Probably time to lock it down.
« Last Edit: 01/18/2019 04:12 am by AC in NC »

Offline docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #163 on: 01/18/2019 04:06 am »
No one is indispensible, and if you're emotionally invested in a job (vs your own business) you've misread important signals. Set up a portable retirement plan and go with the flow.
DM

Offline RonM

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #164 on: 01/18/2019 05:28 am »
And the morale of the story ....     :-\     This is like the 43rd and the next is the 44th off-topic post in this thread.  Most of them in the last two pages.  Probably not even worth trying to salvage at this point.  I wouldn't want to sort through the mess.  Probably time to lock it down.

I think people are sharing their personal stories to make a point. At least that's what I did.

You work for a company and get a paycheck. That's your reward. If the company no longer needs your services they let you go. Sure it feels personal, but it's not. Business is business. Same goes for finding a new job. Don't feel bad about leaving. Your old boss should have paid you more or given better benefits.

Offline AC in NC

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #165 on: 01/18/2019 02:53 pm »
And the morale of the story ....     :-\     This is like the 43rd and the next is the 44th off-topic post in this thread.  Most of them in the last two pages.  Probably not even worth trying to salvage at this point.  I wouldn't want to sort through the mess.  Probably time to lock it down.

I think people are sharing their personal stories to make a point. At least that's what I did.

You work for a company and get a paycheck. That's your reward. If the company no longer needs your services they let you go. Sure it feels personal, but it's not. Business is business. Same goes for finding a new job. Don't feel bad about leaving. Your old boss should have paid you more or given better benefits.

I totally get it.  It's neither topical or interesting.  We are debating philosophy of hiring and firing, of working and quitting.  That's not the purpose of NSF.

If people don't get that, fine.  I've tried to make the point 4 times and have gotten nowhere.  So carry on.
« Last Edit: 01/18/2019 02:55 pm by AC in NC »

Offline Lar

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #166 on: 01/18/2019 03:21 pm »
(mod) No. Let's NOT carry on. Debating the nature of work, or whether capitalism is awesome or not, or what companies owe you, or telling your personal stories are all off topic for this narrowly focused thread.

If we can't stay on topic, yeah, it's time to lock. Try to stay focused if possible. Although perhaps all that can be said has been said, I'm interested in specific impacts to operations and plans as a result of this. That's on topic. I'm interested in the financial implications. That's on topic. I'm interested in what this bodes for the future. That's on topic.

Thanks.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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Offline Patchouli

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #167 on: 01/18/2019 04:06 pm »
Sometimes businesses have to reduce staff because the company's requirements change. We see that with Block 5 reusability and moving to SS/SH.

I was part of a big layoff a few years ago. The company decided to move to web-based apps, overseas help desk, and some "cloud" apps and storage. They no longer needed a large in-house IT department. Sure, it sucked being told on a conference call I was out of a job, but it made sense. I wasn't working on any new projects and was keeping busy by helping second level support. I knew my time was up.

The company gave us 30 days to help the reorg transition and a large severance package for incentive. They were about as nice and professional as they could under the circumstances.

Unfortunately, SpaceX went the IT company route of immediate dismissal, but that's common in tech industries today. I guess everyone has to suffer because of the possible damage a disgruntled employee can do.

The book Lab Rats by Dan Lyons comes to mind about how silicon valley companies operate these days.
Musk is originally a Silicon valley guy and old habits die hard.

Though those who left Spacex do seems to generally hold less resentment than average and tend to quickly find jobs else where.

Another issue they may have overshot on their hiring in some departments as the company was growing very quickly.
Plus how many times did they change star ship's basic design and probably would have ended up with more specialized techs and engineers than needed.
« Last Edit: 01/18/2019 04:12 pm by Patchouli »

Offline niwax

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #168 on: 01/18/2019 05:11 pm »
Sometimes businesses have to reduce staff because the company's requirements change. We see that with Block 5 reusability and moving to SS/SH.

I was part of a big layoff a few years ago. The company decided to move to web-based apps, overseas help desk, and some "cloud" apps and storage. They no longer needed a large in-house IT department. Sure, it sucked being told on a conference call I was out of a job, but it made sense. I wasn't working on any new projects and was keeping busy by helping second level support. I knew my time was up.

The company gave us 30 days to help the reorg transition and a large severance package for incentive. They were about as nice and professional as they could under the circumstances.

Unfortunately, SpaceX went the IT company route of immediate dismissal, but that's common in tech industries today. I guess everyone has to suffer because of the possible damage a disgruntled employee can do.

The book Lab Rats by Dan Lyons comes to mind about how silicon valley companies operate these days.
Musk is originally a Silicon valley guy and old habits die hard.

Though those who left Spacex do seems to generally hold less resentment than average and tend to quickly find jobs else where.

Another issue they may have overshot on their hiring in some departments as the company was growing very quickly.
Plus how many times did they change star ship's basic design and probably would have ended up with more specialized techs and engineers than needed.

Case in point, Tesla just let 7% of their workforce go after hiring another 30% last year to get Model 3 rolling. Now they have production figured out and know who they actually need.
Which booster has the most soot? SpaceX booster launch history! (discussion)

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceX reducing workforce by at least 10 percent
« Reply #169 on: 02/01/2019 10:14 am »
Elon Musk blames SpaceX layoffs on 'absolutely insane' Mars rocket and satellite internet projects

Quote
"On the SpaceX side, the cost reduction was for a different reason unrelated to – SpaceX has two absolutely insane projects that would not only bankrupt the company. There's Starship and Starlink. And so, SpaceX has to be incredibly Spartan with expenditures until those programs reach fruition."

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