You may have heard recently that a man by the name of Jeff Bezos, who runs a modest $386bn e-commerce company called Amazon, has decided to step down from his role of CEO after 27 years, intending to transition into the role of Executive Chairman.
You also have probably seen that another billionaire by the name of Elon Musk whose company Tesla decided to pump $1.5bn into Bitcoin has hit the headlines as well. Now, this won’t seem that uncommon as over the past year Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have consistently been featured in the headlines. Mainly due to just how fruitful the past year has been for both of their personal fortunes, with Jeff Bezos’ rising over $72bn in 2020 to $170bn and Elon Musk’s surging by a massive $140bn to $167bn. Both of these down to the surging share price of Amazon and Tesla in 2020.
On the surface, it may just seem like these two billionaires have little in common apart from they’ve both at one point been the richest people in the world. But with Jeff Bezos stepping down from Amazon so that he can focus on other projects – there may be a lot more crossover. One of the projects that Bezos has said he wants to spend more time on is his Blue Origin project — his privately funded aerospace and rocket manufacturer. Which is in direct competition with Musk’s SpaceX project. One of the reasons behind Bezos wanting to spend more time and money on the project is that since founding it in 2000, Blue Origin hasn’t really achieved that much. It’s fallen far behind SpaceX and lost out on billions of dollars worth of U.S. national security launch contracts and one common trait in billionaires is that they don’t like to come second.
Despite Blue Origin stating that they’re not in a space race with anyone, it’s hard not to draw comparisons between them and SpaceX because they both seem to be going after the same thing. Amazon has a project called Project Kuiper, which plans on launching 3,200 broadcast satellites operating more than 370 miles in the atmosphere. This venture sounds very similar to Musk’s Starlink which has already begun trialling its satellite broadband internet in remote locations. And to add fuel to the fire Musk has openly accused Bezos on Twitter of attempting to “hamstring Starlink” with the US regulators. Another comparison is their quest to create ‘affordable’ space tourism. What was originally science fiction featured in futuristic movies is now becoming a reality. SpaceX is planning on offering anyone who has a spare $50m to spend a 10-day trip into space, after their successful test of the Falcon 9 rocket booster in 2020. Whereas Blue Origin is planning on a much more affordable but shorter trip into space on their New Shepard rocket, thought to cost around $250,000. Let’s not forget about another billionaire Richard Branson, whose Virgin Galactic has actually successfully flown five people into space already and has sold 600 tickets, including celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber.
It doesn’t seem like Jeff Bezos is planning on living the average life after retirement but then again what billionaire does lead a normal life? With Bezos and Musk’s seemingly unlimited funds being ploughed into space exploration, it will be an interesting few years or decade to see which one of them can dominate another market. Maybe, Jeff Bezos will make space tourism as easy as he made online shopping and we’ll all be going on holiday to Mars – although I’d take any kind of holiday at the moment!