Fri. Oct 7th, 2022


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Jeff Bezos vs Elon Musk – Inside space-obsessed tech billionaires’ 15-year feud

3 min read

Two of the richest men in the history of the planet – both obsessed with outer space – have been feuding for so long, it's a wonder they even remember why.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have been dragging out their simmering squabble for around 15 years – despite having many common interests, chief among them space travel.

Bezos, the high-powered CEO of Amazon, marks his last day at the internet marketplace on Monday (July 5) on its 27th birthday, as he begins preparing to head into space alongside his younger brother, Mark, as part of his Blue Origin project.

Musk, the founder of Tesla, also plans to head into space with Space X – and the race to exit the planet was what started it all.

The tension began long before Amazon became the powerhouse it is today.

Bezos, who had always been interested in space, told the Miami Herald in 1982 that he wanted to create outer space colonies for millions of people.

As a result of that long-held interest in leaving Earth, the tech entrepreneur launched Blue Origin in 2000, a new startup focused on human spaceflight.

Back then, Musk was already a millionaire but had not yet become the CEO of Tesla.

Around the same time Bezos launched Blue Origin, Musk made about $160 million from the sale of PayPal to eBay – and used that money to launch SpaceX in 2002.

In 2004, while the companies were still in their infancy, the two met to discuss their ambitions.

It wasn't long before the two clashed over their different philosophies.

According to Christian Davenport's book, The Space Barons, Musk later said of the meeting: "I actually did my best to give good advice, which he largely ignored."

Following the dinner, the pair appeared to keep to themselves, until 2013 when things heated up again in a dispute over leasing NASA's launch pad.

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SpaceX tried to get exclusive use of the NASA-owned pad but Blue Origin (along with SpaceX rival United Launch Alliance) filed a formal protest with the US government to prevent it.

Bezos proposed converting it "into a commercial spaceport available to all launch companies" but Musk dismissed the suggestion, calling it a "phoney blocking tactic."

SpaceX eventually won the right to take over the pad.

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The following year, the two companies got into a patent battle when Blue Origin was granted a patent for drone ships, which are used for landing rocket boosters.

SpaceX petitioned to invalidate the patent and managed to get backing from a judge, leading to Blue Origin withdrawing most of the claims in the patent.

More recently though, the CEOs have mainly been dealing with their rivalry to Twitter instead, after Blue Origin successfully landed its New Shepard rocket in 2015, Bezos tweeted a video calling it "the rarest of beasts — a used rocket."

Musk replied: "Not quite "rarest". SpaceX Grasshopper rocket did 6 suborbital flights 3 years ago & is still around."

They've had plenty of jibes since then and it can be absolutely certain that there'll be plenty more to come.

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