Elon Musk and Bezos are two of the most powerful CEOs in the world with Bezos currently being the wealthiest living person in history as he sit’s atop Amazon’s sprawling empire while also venturing into the space race with Blue Origin’s quest to send people to the moon. Musk is also a dual CEO as the runs both Tesla and SpaceX. Over the years, their not-so-subtle rivalry has even given way to Twitter spats and name-calling. I did a brief analysis some months back in our IG and there are
This apparent feud has been going on for many years now and it all stems from the competition between Elon’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos who got used to winning over the past decade as Amazon quickly became an unstoppable e-commerce juggernaut, has in fortunes wane in Blue Origin which has been outcompeted at every turn by SpaceX. For example in November 2015, Jeff Bezos tweeted “the rarest of beasts – a used rocket. Controlled landing not easy, but done right, can look easy. Check out video:”
It seems Bezos was extremely proud of the recent accomplishments or Blue Origin. However someone should have told him that SpaceX had already accomplished this milestone a few years ago, and true to form, Elon Musk clapped back with a tweet of his own stating “not quite rarest. SpaceX grasshopper did 6 suborbital flights 3 years ago and is still around.”
By 2019, the beef had only gotten a lot more heated when Elon Musk tweeted a message to Jeff Bezos in response to an article from the MIT Technology Review that announced Amazon’s plans to launch more than 3,000 internet-providing satellites, Musk called Bezos a copycat, with the “cat” portion of the word replaced with a cat emoji.
Presumably, that’s because only a year earlier in February 2018, Musk’s SpaceX launched 50 satellites into low earth orbit to provide what he called “a global broadband network” to the “least served” areas around the world. Bezon event went as far as to poach former SpaceX executive Rajeev Dadyal to run Amazon’s satellite constellation project after Musk fired him.
However one thing that that Jeff Bezos had over Elon Musk was endless financial resources as the wealthiest man on earth. So knowing that he didn’t have the time or knowledge to take on Tesla, Bezoz began to invest in startups that competed directly or indirectly against Tesla and Elon Musk’s vision of an electric future. For example, on February 7, 2019, when self-driving car start-up Aurora announced that it has raised more than $530 million in funding from investors including Amazon, Sequoia and the investment arm of energy giant Shell. This was was considered Bezos’ opening salvo in his EV war with Tesla.
Then just seven months later in September 2019, Jeff Bezos invested an undisclosed amount of money into Tesla‘s competitors called Rivian. In addition to his investment into Rivian, he also ordered 100,000 delivery vans from Rivian slated to be delivered by 2024. This move did not make much sense to investors and the stock market because it is widely known that Tesla has a far superior EV technology and also has a rumored van coming out within the next five years. As a result, Amazon’s stock took a slight dip after the announcement.
Nonetheless, Bezos continued with a rash of investments in clean technology which at the time didn’t seem like you had a well thought out plan to take on Tesla. However in June 2020, Bezos’s lunch of Amazons Ventures fund named The Climate Pledge, revealed Bezos had much deeper ambitions in this space. The description of the fund clearly demonstrates the Bezos was attempting to take on Tesla from multiple directions. Bezos specifically stated that The Climate Pledge fund will invest in transportation and logistics, energy generation, storage and utilization – the exact same plan that Elon Musk has for Tesla.
Bezos stated that the plan of the fund was “To accelerate the path zero carbon”, which sounds awfully especially similar to Tesla’s stated goal which us “To celebrate the world transition to sustainable energies”. With this new venture-capital fund, Bezos will invest in clean energy companies all around the world, essentially building up an anti-Tesla portfolio by investing in Tesla’s direct and indirect competitors.
Despite this ambitious goal, the fund only started with $2 billion which is far from Amazon to market cap of $1.5 trillion and Bezos understood that he needed to go big or go homw which explains his next move with EV startup Zoox. After Zoox was caught stealing intellectual property from Tesla, Bezos saw an opportunity to acquire Zoox at it’s moment of weakness for pennies on the dollar which it’s valuation had tanked due to the recent revelations. Zoox had plans to not only deliver the self driving software platform needed for autonomous vehicles, but also develop its own electric vehicle, which made it a perfect fit for Bezos’s plan to take on and hopefully beat Tesla.
As of today, it’s still unclear what Bezos’ plan for Zoox is. Whether he will continue of on the initial path set on by Zoox to deliver an autonomous luxury car to the market, or focus in on the software SAS play, one thing we do know from public sightings is that it is more likely he will start by retrofitting Zoox tech into more conventional vehicles for Amazon deliveries to the public. Further, many speculate that Bezos in true copycat form, plans to release an autonomous ride sharing network similar to Tesla‘s Robotaxi idea.
While the two mainly feud over their respective space and EV ambitions, they also compete for talent, which is evident by the several times where Musk has gone public on Twitter with his issue with Bezos. As both CEOs grow their wealth and power, their feud will likely continue on. I just hope the consumers don’t end up as collateral damage but rather beneficiaries of the advancements and affordability of technology brought on by such healthy competition. Let me know whether or not you think Jeff Bezos will be able to effectively compete with Elon Musk in the comment section below. I for one am Team Elon all the way!
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