Blue Origin launches and lands sub-orbital rocket for second time – Chris Johnston Saturday 23 January 2016 10.19 EST


Space venture set up by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos among handful of companies working to develop reusable rockets

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launch in Texas.

Blue Origin, the space transport venture set up by Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has launched and landed a sub-orbital rocket for the second time, an achievement hailed as a significant development in the company’s drive to develop reusable rockets.

Blue Origin posted a video of the New Shepard rocket’s launch and return to the launchpad in west Texas on Friday morning.

Blue Origin rocket launch
Blue Origin rocket launch Photograph: blueorigin.com

The spacecraft, which is designed to carry six passengers, reached a height of 333,582 ft (63 miles) before coming back to earth and landing itself a few minutes later. It was the same vehicle that made a successful test launch and landing two months ago, Bezos said.

“I’m a huge fan of rocket-powered vertical landing,” he wrote on the Blue Origin website. “To achieve our vision of millions of people living and working in space, we will need to build very large rocket boosters. And the vertical landing [system] scales extraordinarily well.”

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http://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jan/23/blue-origin-sub-orbital-rocket-reusable-amazon

A Conversation with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos | Foreign Affairs JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 ISSUE


Bezos at a conference in New York, December 2014 (Mike Segar / Courtesy Reuters)

Jeff Bezos has always been a tinkerer. As a toddler, he tried to dismantle his crib, and in high school, he started his first business—an educational summer camp for middle schoolers. After graduating summa cum laude from Princeton in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, he went to work on Wall Street, but he quit finance in 1994 to try his hand as an entrepreneur. Amazon.com started as an online bookseller, selling its first copies in July 1995. In the years since, it has grown into a diversified retail giant, as well as a producer of consumer electronics, such as the Kindle, and a major provider of cloud-computing services. Bezos spoke to Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose in November.

What are the crucial qualities that make for a successful entrepreneur?
There are a few qualities that entrepreneurs benefit from. One is that view of divine discontent: How can you make something better? I think entrepreneurship and invention are pretty closely coupled. And inventors are always walking around the world thinking, “I’m kind of inured to this, but just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” That ability to look at things with a fresh mind, a beginner’s mind, is very useful for entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs also benefit greatly from being willing to fail, willing to experiment. Good entrepreneurs tend to be stubborn on the vision but flexible on the details. They’re persistent on what they’re trying to accomplish, but they are willing to rewrite the details as needed as they learn and as things fail.

Another quality I would mention is passion for the mission, whatever it is. The very best products and services are always built by missionaries. They’re people who are genuinely passionate about the arena and happy to be in it. Such people wake up in the morning thinking about that idea, thinking about that particular set of customer experiences or that service or product. They’re doing that when they’re in the shower, and they’re doing that as they close their eyes at night. That’s pretty different from the mentality of somebody just trying to get in on the Internet gold rush.

Article continues:

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/discussions/interviews/the-man-who-sells-everything

Amazon’s Wal-Mart problem: Why low wages, working conditions and disdain for culture will hurt us all – RICHARD (R.J.) ESKOW


Amazon drives down wages, avoids taxes and destroys intellectual life, while profiting from government subsidies

Jeff Bezos (Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton/Jeff Haynes/photo montage by Salon)

Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic, has weighed in on the Amazon controversy with a piece titled “Amazon Must Be Stopped.” The subtitle reads “It’s too big. It’s cannibalizing the economy. It’s time for a radical plan.”

I, for one, am feeling a little less alone as a result. We proposed our own “radical” approach to companies like Amazon and Google back in July, which was to treat them as public utilities if we’re not willing to apply antitrust law. It’s good to have Foer’s company in this effort.

Public utility theory proved remarkably adaptable to corporations like Amazon and Google, at least in theory. But, while the suggestion provoked a predictable string of derisive right-wing responses, there was almost total silence on the left. It’s good to see someone else recognizing the fundamental challenge posed by a company like Amazon, as well as the harm caused by the long-term erosion of our ability to respond to monopolistic threats when they are amplified by the impact of technology.

Foer’s essay has provoked a certain amount of long-overdue discussion in left/liberal circles. The question is, where does that debate go from here?

Perhaps from an excess of caution, Foer opens with a paean to the company’s accomplishments. “Before we speak ill of Amazon,” he writes, “let us kneel down before it.” Foer tells us that “the company began with the stated goal of creating a bookstore as comprehensive as the great Library of Alexandria,” adding that it “quickly managed to make even that grandiloquent ambition look puny” and “could soon conjure the full text of almost any volume onto a phone in less time than a yawn.” He adds that Amazon’s catalogue “comes damn close to serving every human need … as cheap as capitalism permits.”

Amazon hasn’t earned those kind words. As Barnes & Noble pointed out in a 1997 lawsuit, Amazon isn’t a bookstore at all. It’s a “broker” of books, most of which it did not have directly on hand in its early years. It couldn’t “soon conjure” books onto phones. The Kindle platform wasn’t rolled out until 2007, 12 years after Amazon.com went online. And, as Foer himself later suggests, its products are as cheap as monopolistic practicespermit.

The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats – | By David Freeman Posted: 06/25/2014 2:59 pm EDT Updated: 06/26/2014 3:59 pm EDT


Memo: From Nick Hanauer
To: My Fellow Zillionaires

You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. I knew that as soon as the Internet became fast and trustworthy enough—and that time wasn’t far off—people were going to shop online like crazy. Goodbye, Caldor. And Filene’s. And Borders. And on and on.

Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success. The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. One was a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Jeff Tauber, and the other was a fellow named Jeff Bezos. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer. So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. The other Jeff started a web department store called Cybershop, but at a time when trust in Internet sales was still low, it was too early for his high-end online idea; people just weren’t yet ready to buy expensive goods without personally checking them out (unlike a basic commodity like books, which don’t vary in quality—Bezos’ great insight). Cybershop didn’t make it, just another dot-com bust. Amazon did somewhat better. Now I own a very large yacht.

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

Many of us think we’re special because “this is America.” We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter. I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers. And yes, I know there are many of you who are convinced that because you saw a poor kid with an iPhone that one time, inequality is a fiction.

Here’s what I say to you: You’re living in a dream world. What everyone wants to believe is that when things reach a tipping point and go from being merely crappy for the masses to dangerous and socially destabilizing, that we’re somehow going to know about that shift ahead of time. Any student of history knows that’s not the way it happens. Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us.

***

The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer.

Delivery drones are coming: Jeff Bezos promises half-hour shipping with Amazon Prime Air By David Pierce on December 1, 2013 08:10 pm


Amazon Prime Air

Jeff Bezos is nothing if not a showman. Amazon’s CEO loves a good reveal, and took the opportunity afforded by 60 Minutes segment to show off his company’s latest creation: drones that can deliver packages up to five pounds, to your house in less than half an hour. They’re technically octocopters, as part of a program called “Amazon Prime Air.”

A drone sits at the end of a conveyer belt, waiting to pick up a package — Bezos says 86 percent of Amazon’s packages are under five pounds — and can carry them up to ten miles from the fulfillment center. As soon as Amazon can work out the regulations and figure out how to prevent your packages from being dropped on your head from above, Bezos promised, there will be a fleet of shipping drones taking the sky.

http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/1/5164340/delivery-drones-are-coming-jeff-bezos-previews-half-hour-shipping

Amazon and Twitter #hatchingwinners Two very different leadership sagas have produced titans of tech – The Economist Nov 16th 2013


Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal. By Nick Bilton. Penguin Portfolio; 304 pages

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. By Brad Stone. Little Brown; 384 pages; $28. Bantam Press; £18.99. Buy from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

These two internet icons are very different from each other, but the stories of their rise from obscurity to global prominence show how the power of a great idea coupled with the power of the internet can produce extraordinary businesses. Their tales are also a reminder that behind the bits and the bytes are human beings, whose vision of the future and outsized egos can make or break the silicon empires they are striving to build.