A month ago, Elon Musk’s Boring Company unveiled its first test tunnel to the press.
On Friday, the company terminated five employees, at least some of whom helped construct that first underground passageway, Recode has learned.
A spokesman said that the employees were fired for performance reasons as part of regular performance reviews.
“The Boring Company is hiring for over a dozen roles, pursuing a number of projects across the country, and planning to grow significantly in 2019,” he added, seemingly to assure that the moves not be confused for cost-cutting measures.
The dismissals came on the same day that Tesla, another Musk company, announced layoffs of thousands of employees in a cost-cutting move; the spokesman said the timing was coincidental.
And a week earlier, Musk’s third company, SpaceX, announced that it was laying off 10 percent of its workforce — more than 500 employees — in a measure similar to Tesla’s.
Musk founded The Boring Company in 2016 in what first sounded like — and he has since admitted was — a joke. But since then, he has invested more than $100 million into the company, which employs more than 80 workers to design and construct underground tunnels that Musk hopes will create new transportation networks to alleviate aboveground traffic.
In December, the company hosted a media event at its first test tunnel, a 1.14-mile underground stretch in Los Angeles County, through which journalists were whisked in a Tesla. Some described the ride as “bumpy,” which Musk attributed to a paving issue.
The company has cancelled plans to build a second tunnel in Los Angeles, but has said it is pursuing a different one in LA, as well as projects in Chicago and Washington, DC.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.