Jeff Bezos teaches Starting Up via Xpert

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About Jeff Bezos

Jeffrey Preston Bezos is an American technology entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder, CEO, and president of Amazon.com, Inc. Bezos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and raised in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.

Connect with Jeff Bezos's life

  • Do you have any idea where your ambition really comes from?
  • Why did you think that you should change your career from an investment banker to an entrepreneur?
  • Did your grandfather play an important role during your childhood days?
  • Could you describe a little bit the role of your grandfather?
  • Is it actually true that your brother is still a firefighter?
  • Could you describe a little bit what Mackenzie’s role was?
  • Do you think that unconditional love from your loved ones helps you to take risks?
  • And when did you know that Amazon is going to be something way bigger than just a bookstore?
  • Did she suggest that you should focus only on your book business at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey?
  • In 2002 when Amazon went almost bankrupt, what went wrong that you have something new from that?
  • How do you deal with the criticism made by the union and the media for low wage payment to your employees despite Amazon being the biggest job creator?
  • Do you think that the people who criticize you are right?
  • What is the real substance of the conflict?
  • Do you take the case of Amazon’s break up seriously or do you think it’s just a false rumour from the president?
  • Do you think that there is a change in mindset in the society regarding big companies like Facebook, Google, Instagram, etc?
  • How did you deal with the criticism from the public about your purchase of The Washington Post?
  • Will data security and privacy be a competitive advantage for companies or disadvantage if they are not respectful with that?
  • Could you imagine buying and saving other newspapers as well?
  • Will you be upset if The Washington Post starts writing critical stories about Amazon?
  • Could you share with us briefly about the vision of Blue Origin and the idea of kind of space tourism with renewable rockets?
  • Would you say that retail, e-commerce, publishing are all less relevant than your space project?
  • When can someone buy the first ticket to do a space tour?
  • Why do you have a long-term approach in terms of company, products and services while on philanthropy you have a short term approach?
  • So what does money mean for you being the first person in history that has a net worth of three digit amount of billion?
  • What does money mean to you being the first person in history who has a net worth in the three digit billions?
  • What were the origins of Blue Origin?
  • What are your first recollections of space?
    • That is certainly true of me. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you. I have been fascinated with space and rocket propulsion since I was a five-year-old boy and watched the Apollo program. I watched Neil and Buzz step on the moon. There is no looking back. I love it. I pay a lot of attention to it, and I have for my entire life.

      My high school girlfriend is on record as saying that she is convinced I started Amazon just to get enough money to be able to start Blue Origin. But, it is a fact that I always had in mind this idea of getting into the space business. And of course, the financial success that I had as a result of Amazon is what allowed me to start Blue Origin.

  • How difficult would it be for you to build a business in space compared to building Amazon?
    • It is totally different, in some ways. In terms of the fundamentals, I suppose it is very similar. If you look at Amazon versus Blue Origin, with Blue Origin, we are building the infrastructure. With Amazon, we were building on top of the pre-existing infrastructure. So, when I started Amazon in 1995 and opened our doors and shipped our first packages, we did not need to build a transportation network; it already existed — it was called Royal Mail and USPS, Deutsche Post, UPS, etc. — and we could rely on that infrastructure. We didn’t have to build a network, it existed. At that time, people were using dial-up modems, but it was the long-distance telephone network that provided that infrastructure. We didn’t need to build a payment system; it already existed — it was called the credit card. There was a lot of heavy lifting infrastructure already in place; I could build Amazon on top of that infrastructure.

      That is why you have seen so much dynamism and entrepreneurialism on the internet because the price of admission has been very low. The heavy lifting was already done. So, two kids in a dorm room could start Facebook and so on. That is not possible today in space because the infrastructure is either non-existent or too expensive.

      Blue Origin is a very different kind of business in that sense because what we’re trying to do is build that infrastructure. Affordable, reliable, highly available access to space. That is heavy lifting. If we can do that, then in the next phase, there can be a dynamic, entrepreneurial environment in space. Then, if I am successful with Blue Origin, then maybe two kids in a dorm room will be able to start a really important space company.

  • How difficult has it been building Blue Origin?
  • How much attention do you give to Blue Origin compared to others?
  • Are you amazed in this day and age, that it takes years to build satellites so as to put them up into orbit?
  • Do you believe the perception to be true that the space satellite has been lacking innovation compared to the wireless industry?
    • I think if you look at certain things, there has been a lot of innovation. If you look at, for example, throughput, you see that the industry has made fantastic progress over the last 20 years. But I think, in general, when people say that (lack of innovation) what they are really observing is that when something has a lifecycle of 15 years, you don’t get to do that many iterations per generation.

      Every 20 years, how many iterations do you get to do? If you’re talking about mobile phones, you basically get new versions of mobile phones every year or two with substantive upgrades, better processing speed, better displays, etc. So, the iteration cycle is very rapid. One of my hopes is that if we can be successful with Blue Origin in dramatically reducing the cost of access to space, improving availability and reliability, that there will be a new equilibrium found where satellite manufacturers and operators will replace the satellites more frequently with faster upgrades, giving them more opportunities to innovate.
  • Has there been a conservatism in this industry that has held it back?
    • I think there’s a logical, reasonable, sensible conservatism. If you’re paying several hundred million dollars to build a satellite and more tens of millions of dollars to launch it, that drives a sensible conservatism — we need to change that equilibrium.

      The launch is part of what sets the equilibrium. Is it fundamental? Yes, it is, but it is not the only piece. Together with driving down launch costs, people will end up using more standardized satellites, buses, power systems, etc., and changing the payload and customizing that.

  • What are the overall ambitions of the company?
    • It is the things you would expect. The three big ideas for Blue Origin and New Glenn are reducing cost, improving reliability and improving availability. The way you reduce cost is by reusability. It is the only good way to reduce cost in a very significant manner.

      New Glenn’s booster is designed for 25 flights, and the BE-4 engine is designed for 100 missions. We have done a lot to work on reliability: the entire architecture is one fault operative. We have done a lot of work on the availability: for example, there is a requirement for one sensor out not delaying the launch, so we can go ahead and launch even with one sensor out. If you look at the recovery ship where the booster is going to land, it is going to be underway, so that it can use stabilizing fins so that we can operate the recovery platform even in heavy sea states. These are the kind of things that help with availability.

      Those are the three big ideas and that’s what we’re working on. We have ironed out how we want to build the booster using our New Shepard program. We learned so much building New Shepard that we are able to incorporate all of those learnings into New Glenn.
  • Do you expect re-usability to become a standard in this industry?
  • Would you look to launch other businesses around space or satellites?
  • How quickly would you launch a satellite according to your customers demand?
  • Do you think that in the future there is a good growth in space industry?
    •  It is always going to be hybrid and it should be hybrid. That is what makes sense. It will be hybrid GEO/LEO, ground systems, fiber optics — everything. It is all going to be part of the mix.

      I think the industry will grow to the extent that it is able to reduce its costs. If Blue Origin is successful at lowering launch costs, and if satellite manufacturers are successful at mass-producing satellites and lowering those costs and using more standardized components, then you’re going to see satellites become more competitive with terrestrial alternatives. And you’ll see more of it.

  • By how much can you lower the prices on your satellites?
  • Will the overall communications landscape change over the next two years so that Blue Origin can focus deeply in it’s space activities?
  • Being a big fan of the TV series “The Expanse”, how did you adopt the interest of science fiction in you?
  • You’ve talked a lot about millions of people working in space which was also Professor O’Neill’s vision as well. Could you explain to us on that matter?
  • What steps would you take to become successful in space activities?
  • Is the space effort by other non-profit organisation like NASA, a market failure?
  • What do you see as the role of Blue Origin in space activities?
  • Could you tell us about what progress is New Glenn into?
  • How much will a ticket cost for a space trip through New Glenn?
  • Are you interested in going for a public-private partnership with NASA?
  • What are your thoughts about the White House’s Lunar Initiative?

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