Billionaire CEOs are like betta fish. Put them in the identical tank they usually may get territorial (or write passive-aggressive tweets). Not less than, that appears to be the case for Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who discover themselves in an ongoing feud over the race to area.
The 2, who’ve held rotating titles because the richest man on the earth (that at present goes to Musk), began off on shaky grounds from the very first day they met, in response to Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Elon Musk, titled merely Elon Musk. It appears as if the 2 high-powered people discover fault within the different’s comparable traits.
Within the early 2000s, Bezos was a single-digit billionaire and Amazon was nonetheless synonymous with promoting books. Musk was additional behind, but to make his first billion by investing in Tesla. The 2 formidable techies shared some commonalities; Isaacson wrote that each leaders targeted on “constructing reusable rockets” and exploring areas as “a missionary somewhat than a mercenary,” that means they prioritized discovering extra assets for civilization somewhat than getting cash from the endeavor. For Bezos, that took form in Blue Origin; for Musk, it was SpaceX.
Because the story goes, Musk reached out to Bezos in 2004 to offer him a tour of his SpaceX places of work. After their playdate, Bezos was reportedly shocked to get “a considerably curt e-mail from Musk expressing annoyance that Bezos had not reciprocated by inviting him to Seattle to see Blue Origin’s manufacturing facility,” in response to Isaacson. Bezos complied, inviting Musk and his then spouse Justine Musk to tour Blue Origin. In what absolutely made for an ungainly dinner afterward, Bezos after which spouse Mackenzie Scott, a now main philanthropic-donor, reportedly listened to Musk’s unsolicited recommendation about one among Bezos’ concepts.
“Dude, we tried that and that turned out to be actually dumb, so I’m telling you don’t do the factor we did,” Musk apparently stated “along with his standard depth,” as Isaacson wrote. It didn’t sit all that effectively with Bezos, who recalled “feeling that Musk was a bit too certain of himself, on condition that he had not but efficiently launched a rocket,” Isaacson added.
However when you ask Musk he’d doubtless say he was simply making an attempt to assist. “I really did my finest to offer good recommendation, which he largely ignored,” Musk stated, in accordance Christian Davenport’s guide The Area Barons, which explored the billionaire entrepreneurs making an attempt to resurrect area.
A yr later, Musk adopted up asking Bezos if Amazon may assessment Justine’s new guide—“an city horror thriller about demon-human hybrid,” as Isaacson described it. He supplied to write down a private assessment as an alternative since that’s not what Amazon does, solely to obtain a “brusque reply” from Musk. However the Amazon CEO nonetheless reportedly wrote the assessment.
Relations stay tense
As Bezos and Musk each grew to become richer (and as wealth inequality spiked) and their goals of area grew extra fanciful and funded, the rivalry between the 2 ballooned. Between patent disputes and thinly-pointed tweets, they’ve spent the higher a part of the last decade needling the opposite whereas at occasions pausing to offer the opposite reward for innovation.
In 2013, the 2 beefed over who may lease a NASA launchpad. SpaceX finally gained out. Musk has reacted and re-posted stale memes at Bezos’ expense, and Bezos too has engaged in his personal enjoyable, congratulating SpaceX for touchdown a craft by saying “Welcome to the membership!” In 2021, NASA selected SpaceX as an alternative of Blue Origin to assist develop the subsequent moon touchdown initiatives. However Bezos didn’t go down simply, combating the choice solely to be overruled by a decide. Their ongoing feud has even led to a lawsuit.
Their pursuits really run tandem to one another in a approach that doesn’t must engender competitors, however would somewhat make for an excellent partnership, affiliate professor at College of East Anglia Ben Little writes for The Dialog. “It’s straightforward to see that, at a fundamental stage, Musk’s and Bezos’s acknowledged plans for area domination are complementary, somewhat than aggressive,” Little states, including that whereas Bezos thinks Musk’s concept of colonizing Mars is just not grounded, Musk believes Bezos’ concept of constructing a “big orbiting area station” infrastructure gained’t be developed shortly sufficient.
Musk has implied his needling remarks through the years are alleged to inspire Bezos. “In some methods, I’m making an attempt to goad him into spending extra time at Blue Origin so that they make extra progress,” Musk as soon as advised the Monetary Occasions.
Whether or not or not the feud is legit or one-sided is not sure, until you’re in a billionaire’s thoughts. However one factor that’s for certain: Their first assembly was not (inter)stellar.