How Jeff Bezos got to space

Blue Origin was founded in 2000 with a mission to “preserve the Earth” by going “to space to tap its unlimited resources and energy.”


July 20, 2021

Later today, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will fly to space on a rocket built by his company Blue Origin.

He’ll be accompanied by his brother Mark, along with the youngest (Oliver Daemen, 18) and oldest (Wally Funk, 82) space travelers in history.

The journey will last just 11 minutes…

But it took more than 2 decades to get there

Bezos started Blue Origin in 2000 with a mission to “preserve the Earth” by going “to space to tap its unlimited resources and energy,” per author Brad Stone.

However, for the majority of Blue Origin’s existence, the space project was fairly strapped for funding.

Using Amazon as a model, Bezos kept a tight lid on expenses. For years, he wanted to limit Blue Origin’s head count to ~70 people, believing constraints lead to innovation.

While Blue Origin pinched pennies…

… Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 and put up $100m of his own PayPal fortune to fund the project.

Even though it was founded later, SpaceX launched its first rocket into space 7 years before Blue Origin (2008 vs. 2015).

While SpaceX made headlines for its space innovations, Blue Origin plodded along in relative silence, making much less headway in the space economy that could be worth $1T+ in annual sales by 2040.

Frustrated by the progress…

… Bezos opened his wallet in April 2017, announcing he would sell $1B a year in Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin.

In 2017, SpaceX had 5x as many employees as Blue Origin (5k to 1k); today, it is ~3x the size (9.5k to 3.5k).

And, of course, the most serious sign of Bezos’ new focus is his decision to fly today.

A wild guess: Bezos returns from space as CEO of Blue Origin. And spends the rest of his days getting back at Elon for this tweet:

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