Even the Milky Way seems too thin to prevent tech billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk from colliding in their quest to conquer space.
- For the past 15 years, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, two of the world’s most dominant CEOs, have been locked in a bitter feud.
- While the two feuds primarily over their respective space aspirations — Musk runs SpaceX, while Bezos established Blue Origin — they also compete for talent, with Musk publicly criticizing Bezos on many occasions.
- Musk mocked Bezos’ age and called him a copycat for some of Amazon’s business ventures. He also said Amazon is a monopoly that should be split up.
- Bezos, for one, has made veiled criticisms of Musk’s key objective of sending humans to Mars.
- Both SpaceX and Blue Origin are currently working on lunar landing craft for a NASA mission to return humans to Mars.
Both Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have amassed fortunes in billions of dollars, each worth more than $150 billion. Since the beginning of this century, both the tech moguls have invested a portion of their immense fortunes in private space exploration firms. The Musk-Bezos rivalry is only likely to escalate as both CEOs continue to increase their wealth and power. The race is now to the moon.
In response to a post about Bezos’ Blue Origin protesting against NASA’s choice to construct a module in Musk’s SpaceX team that will land the next US astronauts on the moon, Elon hit low with a recent tweet saying, “can’t get it up (to orbit).”
The tech moguls have invested a portion of their immense fortunes in private space exploration firms over the past two decades. Bezos, 57, is the founder of both Blue Origin and Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth. He is the wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes, with a net worth of $202 billion.
According to the list, Musk, the colorful 49-year-old founder of Tesla and SpaceX, and other businesses, including one that aims to merge human brains and machines, is in third place with a net worth of $173 billion.
Dreams of private businesses taking to the stars, rather than leaving those wonders to states, have evolved into plans to deploy satellite networks for wireless internet and space tourism. Even though SpaceX and Blue Origin have wealthy founders, they struggle for contracts with the US military and space agencies. Musk has a distinct advantage over Bezos.
Watch: Elon Musk vs Jeff Bezos – Comparing SpaceX and Blue Origin Plans
SpaceX-Microsoft collaboration seals the deal?
Hundreds of satellites have been launched by SpaceX, but despite Bezos’ $10 billion investment, the Kuiper satellite network remains Earthbound. On the other hand, Musk also formed a partnership with Microsoft, Amazon’s leading cloud computing competitor, to use Microsoft’s Azure platform to provide satellite-powered internet access, which the companies announced late last year.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also made public its intentions to collaborate with SpaceX on a government contract to develop satellites for a defense system that can detect and monitor ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic missiles.
Separately, Microsoft was given a $10 billion “JEDI” cloud computing contract by the US Department of Defense last year, rather than Amazon. Amazon claims it was left out of the agreement due to former US President Donald Trump’s vendetta against the company and Bezos.
According to Xavier Pasco of the Foundation for Strategic Research, NASA has gained confidence in SpaceX, which has been entrusted with transporting supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station.
Meanwhile, analysts believe that Blue Origin is yet to take the ‘critical measure.’ Bezos has been left to take SpaceX to court right here on Earth.
Jeff Bezos’ Plans
Bezos revealed early this year that he would step down as Amazon’s CEO and devote more time to other ventures, including Blue Origin. He has cited late physicist and space advocate Gerard O’Neill’s revolutionary vision but has mocked Musk’s talk of colonizing Mars.
Bezos has made it clear that he does not believe the red planet is suitable for human settlement. In a conference in 2019, Bezos had asked who wants to move to Mars. He also suggested anyone who wants to live on the red planet should first go and live on the top of Mount Everest and see if they like that. According to him, it is a garden paradise in comparison to Mars.
The rivalry between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk has sky-high financial stakes.
Timeline of the Bezos-Musk Rivalry
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, two of the world’s most well-known CEOs, have had a simmering rivalry for the past 15 years. Here’s a brief timeline with highlight flashpoints of the Musk-Bezos rivalry.
- The two executives have fought over their respective space aspirations. Musk runs SpaceX, while Bezos owns Blue Origin, but it doesn’t end there: Musk has chastised Bezos, accusing him of being a copycat for his self-driving car.
- Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos five years prior, and the company went public in 1997. But Amazon wasn’t yet the behemoth it would become — it would be years before the company launched Prime, launched its streaming service, or launched Amazon Web Services, its cloud infrastructure service.
- Bezos, on the other hand, had always been fascinated by space.
- In 1982, after graduating as valedictorian from high school, Jeff told the Miami Herald that he wanted to create outer space colonies for millions of people.
- Bezos founded Blue Origin, a new startup focusing on human spaceflight, in 2000 due to his long-held desire to leave Earth.
- Elon Musk was already a multi-millionaire, but he hadn’t yet taken over as CEO of Tesla.
- Musk had already sold Zip2, a company he co-founded with his brother, Kimbal, to Compaq for $300 million around Bezos’s launching Blue Origin.
- Musk was developing PayPal at the time, which would later be sold to eBay for $1.5 billion.
- He made around $160 million from the PayPal sale and used that money to launch SpaceX in 2002.
- The Musk-Bezos rivalry seems to date back to 2004 when the two CEOs met for dinner.
- Both Blue Origin and SpaceX were only in their early stages in 2004, with neither company having completed any launches.
- But that didn’t stop a rivalry from erupting: a meeting between the two to discuss their reusable rocket aspirations did not go well.
- Musk and Bezos tended to keep to themselves from 2004 onward. However, their feud continued in 2013 when they clashed over the lease of a NASA launchpad.
- When Blue Origin was awarded a patent for drone ships used to land rocket boosters, the two companies got into a patent dispute in 2014.
- SpaceX filed a lawsuit to get the patent revoked.
- Musk and Bezos have been more open about their feud in recent years, bringing their feud to Twitter.
- However, the rivalry isn’t all about space aspirations.
- Musk has chastised Jeff Bezos in interviews about Blue Origin’s recruiting practices.
- Musk, known for his outspokenness on Twitter, has taken multiple jibes at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
- Bezos, for one, has been more subtly critical of Musk and SpaceX, but he has made veiled statements regarding his views on the company’s plans.
- In an interview with the New York Times in July, Musk seemed to make yet another dig at Bezos, this time about his age.
- Though space tends to be their crucial point of contention, Musk has made other pointed comments regarding Amazon, most notably calling the company a monopoly.
- Even as their rivalry rages on, both Bezos and Musk have continued to make gains — and expand their fortunes.
Watch: Elon Musk vs Jeff Bezos – Who will prevail?
The Space Race
Whatever the outcome of Bezos and Musk’s feud, both the billionaires will continue to compete. In fact, their companies are currently sending designs for lunar landers to NASA for a plan to send humans to the moon by 2024.
Global analysts suggest the “monetization” of space will begin in earnest soon. The kitty is worth trillions of dollars. Further, the analysts point out how the winner of the space race will be declared in the coming year or two.