Jeff Bezos, the guy who made e-commerce the “new frontier” of the economy, is to go into space on Tuesday in an attempt to make tourism far beyond the Earth the new frontier.
“Some people must be naturally predisposed to explore the frontiers,” Time magazine said of Bezos when he was named “Person of the Year” in 1999 for creating the Amazon retail website.
Bezos has become one of the world’s wealthiest and most well-known individuals since launching Amazon in 1994 at the age of 30.
Bezos chose to make boyhood dreams of flying personal after amassing billions of dollars from the Amazon venture and created the Blue Origin space corporation in 2000, two years before fellow businessman Elon Musk founded SpaceX.
“I posted our first job opening 25 years ago today, when I hadn’t even settled on the name Amazon yet. Feels like yesterday,” Bezos posted on Instagram on an Amazon anniversary in 2019.
In that job opening, he asked for a computer programmer who could create complex systems “in about one-third the time that most competent people think possible.” Such ambitious goals helped lead him to success, he said.
Blue Origin, like SpaceX, has made reusable rockets the focus of a goal to make spaceflight more affordable. Blue Origin tested New Shepard, and landed it, in a flight to the 62-mile-high Karman line in November 2015.
Musk’s SpaceX followed suit a month later, landing its orbital Falcon 9 rocket. Since then, SpaceX has dominated the so-called New Space industry, launching humans to the International Space Station in 2020 and defeating Blue Origin in April for a NASA moon landing contract.
Musk has poked Bezos, 57, with sarcasm and social media jokes about the competition over the years. Musk tweeted, “Oh quit teasing, Jeff,” with a winking emoji face and a crude reference to Blue Moon, after Bezos conducted a press conference to present his Blue Moon lander design.
Richard Branson, a British billionaire who created Virgin Galactic in 2004, is also involved in the commercial space race. Branson beat Musk and Bezos to space himself by riding on his company’s VSS Unity spaceship on July 11.
“It truly wasn’t a race,” Branson told the journalists after landing on the tarmac. “… We wish Jeff the greatest best.”
Bezos has had his own personal issues. After the Amazon founder announced his divorce from Mackenzie Scott in 2019, former President Donald Trump dubbed him “Jeff Bozo.” After the National Enquirer released raunchy text messages Bezos made to his girlfriend, he was fired.
After Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post in 2013, Trump and Bezos started a Twitter feud. Later in a tweet, Trump warned that if Amazon had to pay fair taxes, the stock would “crash and disintegrate like a paper bag.”
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“Finally trashed by @realDonaldTrump. Will still reserve him a seat on the Blue Origin rocket,” Bezos responded.
Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO on July 5, and is expected to devote more time to Blue Origin, the Washington Post and other ventures. As part of the move, he becomes executive chairman of Amazon’s board.
Raised in Houston and Miami, Bezos attended Palmetto High School in Miami, working at McDonald’s for a while. He graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science.
That background gave him a front-row seat on the emergence of the Internet as an unprecedented human communication and connection phenomenon.
“The Internet holds the promise to improve lives and empower people,” he told Time in 1999. “I feel very lucky to be involved in this time of rapid and amazing change.”