This 2015 photograph courtesy of Blue Origin shows Jeff Origin, founder of Blue Origin, at the New Shepard launch facility in West Texas before the rocket’s maiden voyage. The two companies leading the group in space tourism research say they are a few months away from their first passenger flights out of this world, although neither has set a firm date. Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, and Blue Origin, by Amazon creator Jeff Bezos, compete to be the first to finish the tests, with the two companies using radically different technology.
Jeff Bezos sets his sights on a new space frontier in the coming days after building a gargantuan business empire that has in many ways conquered Earth.
His journey into space aboard a reusable rocket built by his company Blue Origin comes just two weeks after he stepped down as CEO of Amazon, which went from a garage start to one of the most formidable businesses in the world.
Bezos, 57, remains executive chairman of the tech and e-commerce colossus he founded 27 years ago. But he is clearly looking for even higher ambitions.
With a fortune worth more than $ 200 billion, Bezos has been close to or on top of the richest people in the world, even after his divorce settlement.
It owns about 10 percent of Amazon, a giant with a presence in dozens of countries and about 1.3 million employees.
But Bezos usually points to his humble beginnings: born to a teenage mother in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and adopted at age four by his Cuban immigrant stepfather.
Bezos was attracted to computer science when the IT industry was in its infancy and studied engineering at Princeton University.
After graduating, he put his skills to work on Wall Street, where in 1990 he had already become senior vice president of investment firm DE Shaw.
But about four years later he surprised his peers by leaving his well-paid position to open an online bookstore called Amazon.com, backed by his parents ’money.
– “Keep inventing” –
In his letter of dismissal to staff, Bezos said the company was successful following its mantra: “Keep inventing and don’t despair when at first the idea sounds crazy.”
In public appearances, Bezos often recounts the early days on Amazon, when he himself placed orders and drove boxes to the post office.
Today, Amazon has a market value in excess of $ 1.8 trillion. It posted $ 386 billion in annual revenue from $ 386 billion from e-commerce, cloud computing, groceries, artificial intelligence, multimedia transmissions and more.
“Bezos has been a transformative leader … in book sales, the retail market, cloud computing and home delivery,” said Darrell West, a senior member of the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technological Innovation.
“He was a pioneer who introduced many of the conveniences that people take for granted, such as going to an online store, ordering something, and having it delivered to your home the next day. The entire e-commerce industry owes many of its innovations to this individual. ”
Bezos “had an instinct for the right” to find the next market, said Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.
Kay said Bezos deftly transmitted books to other merchandise to an online marketplace and successfully built the cloud infrastructure for the company, which became highly profitable Amazon Web Services.
Amazon outperformed its rivals by giving up profits in its early years, “and reinvesting it all in expansion,” Kay said.
“If you look at the trajectory now, it all made sense,” Kay added. “It can be said that Bezos has been one of the best business architects of his time.”
Bezos has been fascinated by space since he saw the Apollo moon land in 1969 when he was a child and considers space to be important for the future of the planet.
He has talked about the possibility of humans living in space colonies, drawing ideas from both science fiction writers and scientists.
“Humans need to go into space if we continue to have a thriving civilization,” Bezos said in a 2019 CBS News interview.
“We have grown as a population, as a species, and this planet is relatively small. We see it in things like climate change and pollution and heavy industry. We are in the process of destroying this planet … we must preserve this planet ”.
– Lasting legacy –
Bezos moves away from Amazon’s day-to-day management to spend more time on projects like Blue Origin.
He owns the Washington Post and has devoted time and funds to the fight against climate change.
While Amazon has boasted of its $ 15 minimum wage and other benefits, critics say its relentless focus on efficiency and worker surveillance has treated employees like machines.
The Teamsters union recently launched a campaign to organize Amazon employees, claiming that its workers “face dehumanizing, insecure, low-wage jobs, with high turnover and no voice at work.”
Bezos seemed to be responding to workers ’concerns earlier this year when he called for a“ better vision ”for employees after a contusion battle for a unionization vote in Alabama, which ultimately failed.
He set a new goal for the company to be “the best entrepreneur on Earth and the safest job on Earth,” in his final letter as executive director.