Elon Musk’s SpaceX has fired several employees as a result of a letter criticising the vocal billionaire’s public behaviour, according to a message to employees confirmed by AFP on Friday.

SpaceX chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell wrote in an email late Thursday that a “small group” of employees sought signatures from their coworkers as a show of support for the letter and participation in a survey.

The mercurial billionaire uses Twitter on a regular basis to provoke, speak directly to customers and fans, and occasionally offend with unfiltered or crude remarks.

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According to Shotwell’s message, some employees felt “uncomfortable, intimidated, and bullied, and/or angry” because the letter pushed them to sign something that didn’t reflect their beliefs.

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“We have too much important work to do,” she continued, “and we don’t need this kind of overreaching activism”.

The company “terminated a number of employees involved” after conducting an investigation, Shotwell said, without specifying how many.

Musk’s public behaviour, as well as recent allegations of sexual harassment against him, were cited in the workers’ letter as “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us,” according to The Verge.

“Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX as our CEO and most visible spokesperson – every Tweet Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company,” the letter continued.

Musk, who also runs Tesla, is in the middle of a roller-coaster $44 billion bid to buy Twitter, which has heightened interest in the investor.