A detailed look at the layoffs at SpaceX


Readers!
 
For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. They practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.
 
Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.

 

Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


 

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

 

You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Capitalism in space: Link here. Because of California’s complex employee protection laws, SpaceX has provided the government there a detailed list describing the 577 layoffs taking place in California.

Technicians — a critical role at any rocket company — make up the lion’s share of laid-off employees, with 174 positions eliminated (30.2% of all layoffs in Hawthorne). Engineers come next with 97 jobs let go, or nearly 17% of the locally terminated workforce.

Managers and supervisors together make up about 7% of the layoffs in Hawthorne. Positions listed under “Other” include baristas, dishwashers, drivers, recruiters, writers, and an investigator.

The article really doesn’t tell us much, other than the large majority of the 10% reduction are occurring in California, which makes me wonder if SpaceX is acting to reduce its presence in that high-tax, high-regulation state.

Share

9 comments

  • Des

    The large majority of SpaceX’s workforce is in California, so it is to be expected that a large majority of the layoffs will occur in California.

  • Col Beausabre

    “Positions listed under “Other” include baristas, dishwashers, drivers, recruiters, writers, and an investigator.”

    Just what every space engineering outfit needs, barristas. And an “investigator” Of what? Of Whom? “Drivers”? We’re talking the car capital of the universe – California – are you telling me that people need to be hauled around? Every place I’ve ever heard of, you need to be somewhere for the company, you drive yourself. If it’s a long way, put in a mileage claim. If this is a reasonable sample of the 46 % of the layoffs under “Other”, Musk is right, Spacex needs to get lean. And a hint to Elon, almost all companies have gotten out of the business of running things like their cafeterias.They concentrate what they’re supposed to be good at – like building spaceships – and let a vendor who specializes in food service run the things it’s good at – like the dining hall and coffee bars. Ditto on janitorial. You’ve got people competing to provide the service, so the cost goes down and you can build more and better rockets with the extra money. The fact that he needed/needs Spacex people doing these jobs gives me a bad whiff of Musk the Control Freak. It’s like Henry Ford owning iron mines and steel mills to provide the material for his cars.

  • James Crockford

    In regards to the comment about “drivers”.

    Please remember that SpaceX has “drivers” to move the rockets/equipment around etc.

    Also “drivers” that act as security escorts.

  • Kirk

    “In a reversal of a deal local officials touted as a win for Los Angeles tech, SpaceX will no longer be developing and building its Mars spaceship and rocket booster system at the Port of Los Angeles. Instead, the work will be done in South Texas.”

    The LA Times article is short on details. https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-spacex-port-of-la-20190116-story.html

  • Michael

    I’d be willing to bet that within 5-7 years there’s gonna be a big fat hole in Hawthorn.

  • Edward

    Kirk reported: “‘In a reversal of a deal local officials touted as a win for Los Angeles tech, SpaceX will no longer be developing and building its Mars spaceship and rocket booster system at the Port of Los Angeles. Instead, the work will be done in South Texas.’

    Much is explained. California: high tax. Texas: low tax. California: high regulation (and increasing). Texas: low regulation. Los Angeles area: high cost of living. Texas: low cost of living. Los Angeles area: home of America’s aerospace, where a budding company can find a lot of experienced talent. Texas: a new destination for aerospace talent.

    I wonder what California or Los Angeles law or regulation took effect since last April that reduced the desirability of Los Angeles as the manufacturing site. Or maybe it was difficulty in obtaining permits.
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/spacex-announces-it-will-build-its-big-falcon-rocket-in-los-angeles/

    Many of the people being laid off will soon not be needed in California, but they are not yet needed in Texas.

    If Starship and Super Heavy (previously known as BFR) are going to cost $2 billion to $10 billion to develop (both, not each), then it is no surprise that SpaceX is taking measures to keep costs at the lower end of that range, including keeping a high pace on the development work, as is seen in Boca Chica this month. The rest of the company will also have to be leaner in order to help afford the high development cost. High cost for a company, not for a government program.

  • Kirk

    In response to a Teslarati article saying “SpaceX will reportedly move Starship and Super Heavy development to Texas as first hop tests near,” Musk tweeted:

    “The source info is incorrect. Starship & Raptor development is being done out of our HQ in Hawthorne, CA. We are building the Starship prototypes locally at our launch site in Texas, as their size makes them very difficult to transport.”

    “Teslarati is very thoughtful & well-written, but this stems from a miscommunication by SpaceX”

    “The LA Times has a long track of unreasonable attacks on SpaceX & Tesla, but in this case it was our miscommunication”

    It is unclear from all this if SpaceX is still planning StarShip component manufacture in the San Pedro port facility they rented for BFR construction.

  • Col Beausabre

    ” Texas: a new destination for aerospace talent.”

    Mmmmm…..Bell Helicopter and Lockheed are both in Ft Worth so it’s not exactly terra incognita. And some government operation is located down in Houston…

    “Please remember that SpaceX has “drivers” to move the rockets/equipment around etc.

    Also “drivers” that act as security escorts.”

    And it has to be cheaper to contract that out rather than have people sitting around when there’s no shipment going on. The Golden Rule of transportation economics is that your expensive vehicle and its crew only make you money when they’re hauling cargo. A specialist trucking firm and a security outfit will only charge you for when they are needed, they’ll be busy on other jobs when you don’t need them, so you’re not paying for any down time. I will admit you may need a few drivers to move stuff around the plant, however.

  • Kirk

    I wrote, “It is unclear from all this if SpaceX is still planning StarShip component manufacture in the San Pedro port facility they rented for BFR construction.”

    But looking back, that seems unlikely. From the LA Times article: “But in a letter dated Jan. 7 and provided to The Times, SpaceX Chief Financial Officer Bret Johnsen told the Port of Los Angeles the company would terminate the Terminal Island lease agreement.”

    That is pretty specific, and so would seem unlikely to be subject to SpaceX’s “miscommunication”. Plus, if they are only manufacturing road transportable components, then a port-side facility isn’t needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *