Technology

Jeff Bezos doubles Blue Origin’s time to focus extra on his area firm

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Jeff Bezos pops champagne after emerging from the New Shepard capsule after his space flight on July 20, 2021.

Blue origin

Jeff Bezos has named Blue Origin his most important life’s work – and the hours he devotes to the space company are growing accordingly.

Historically, Bezos had Wednesday afternoons devoted to either updates and discussions at Blue Origin, people familiar with the situation told CNBC – meetings that took place in person before the Covid pandemic and have been by phone since. However, last month it also added Tuesday afternoons, these people said.

While Bezos’ increased commitment to the company has been previously reported, it’s not how much he is involved with Blue Origin. As one of the richest people in the world and still serving as Executive Chairman of the company at Amazon, Bezos’ time is very high, so doubling the time with his space company is a significant additional commitment.

Blue Origin and Bezos did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

His dual efforts come at a critical moment in Blue Origin’s history: The company is in a bitter legal battle over the award of a multi-billion dollar lunar lander contract by NASA to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a key customer of its BE-4 rocket engines after years With louder delays, Blue Origin’s first orbital rocket is also years behind schedule, and the suborbital space exploration and tourism business is now in earnest.

Blue Origin’s technology development is also facing a new obstacle in the form of the departure of top talent, as CNBC reported in August. Disagreements with decisions made by Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith were the number one reason executives and engineers left, acquaintances told CNBC. Smith is a former Honeywell executive who Bezos hired in 2017 to run the company.

The extra time at Blue Origin is partly a new focus for Bezos. For example, one person told CNBC that he used to hold an annual, company-wide question-and-answer session with employees – but not in 2020 and still in this year.

It is unclear whether Bezos will also invest more in Blue Origin. In 2017, he said he sold $ 1 billion of his Amazon shares annually to fund Blue Origin’s development, but recently Bezos increased those share sales without disclosing whether all of those funds will go to the space company.

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket rendering using Amazon satellites.

ULA / Amazon

Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon CEO in July, is also paying attention to how the two companies he founded might interact. Blue Origin management has held regular meetings to win contracts to launch Amazon’s Project Kuiper Internet satellites, acquaintances told CNBC. But after United Launch Alliance – Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s missile building joint venture – won its first Amazon launch deal earlier this year, Bezos started sitting at Blue Origin’s Kuiper meetings, these people said .

When it announced its ULA nine launches contract in April, Amazon emphasized that multiple launch partners will be required to launch the 3,235 Kuiper satellites. This leaves the door open for Blue Origin to grab the next one – this time perhaps with the help of the man who knows Amazon better than anyone else on the planet.

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