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Jeff Bezos vs. Elon Musk


Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have had a rivalry between them long before they became the richest men in the world. In 2004, both Blue Origin (owned by Bezos) and SpaceX (owned by Musk) were still in their infancy stages. The two businessmen met to discuss human space flight ambitions with each other.

The meeting did not go well and spawned the rivalry that exists today between the two.

Musk and Bezos in the Media

In the media, both Bezos and Musk have seemed to keep to themselves after their meeting. The space race rivalry between them became more apparent in 2013. Musk attempted to get an exclusive lease on a NASA launchpad for SpaceX. Bezos went on to file a formal protest with the government. He proposed making it a public commercial launchpad, accessible to all companies who wish to tackle human space flight.

Ultimately SpaceX did win the launch rights to the pad. Not before Musk was able to get a few jabs at Blue Origin. He pointed out that Blue Origin still had yet to develop a reliable spacecraft even though it had been under development for over ten years at the time.

It’s more likely to find unicorns in the flame duct than Blue Origin launching a successful spacecraft.

Elon Musk

Jeff BezosAfter that, the battle was on between Bezos and Musk. In 2014, Blue Origin and SpaceX got into a patent war when a drone ship patent. Submitted by Blue Origin, the patent was accepted by the US Patent Office. The significance of this patent being granted meant that whenever SpaceX used a drone ship (used for safely landing the rocket boosters), they would have to license the patent from Blue Origin.

SpaceX petitioned to invalidate the patent, claiming that the concept had been public for decades. After reviewing both claims, a judge sided in favor of SpaceX. As a result Blue Origin was forced to remove claims to most parts of the patent.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos on Social Media

Both Bezos and Musk have taken their rivalry to the digital arena. They regularly bash each other on social media platforms such as Twitter. In 2015, Blue Origin landed the Shepard rocket and Bezos tweeted that a reusable rocket was “the rarest of beasts.”

Elon MuskMusk responded, informing Bezos that the SpaceX Grasshopper rocket completed six suborbital flights three years before and is still in service.

The biggest issue Musk has had with Bezos and Blue Origin is poaching of employees. In an interview with his biographer, Ashlee Vance, Musk mentioned that Blue Origin recruiters would offer specialized employees double their salary at SpaceX. An email filter was set up to track and filter out keywords after the poaching attempts.

The tech rivalry between Bezos and Musk for human space flight has spurred rapid advancement in privatized space travel. Musk has admitted that he is intentionally jabbing at Bezos so that he spends more time focusing on Blue Origin and to continue making progress.