On Monday, Elon Musk became the richest man in the world, ahead of Jeff Bezos. Thanks to a surge in Tesla shares, the South African entrepreneur is now worth more than $200 billion, like Jeff Bezos and Bernard Arnault before him. In reality, when it comes to such large sums, fortunes become very fluctuating depending on the movement of the shares of their respective companies. It is therefore quite likely that the situation will reverse but for the moment, Elon Musk is enjoying his place in the sun. Even if it means scratching the founder of Blue Origin a little.
The CEO of Tesla sarcastically awarded him a silver medal on Twitter, as if thanking him for his participation and congratulating him on his “modest” second place. A reflex to which Elon Musk has accustomed us, he who is particularly fond of this kind of jokes on the Internet and which some perceive as a real troll. On September 28, a day after the announcement of his number one spot, the CEO of SpaceX declared: “I will send a giant statue of the number 2 to Jeffrey B., with a silver medal”. Finally, “Jeffrey B.” will only have received the silver medal, virtually, and in the form of an emoticon. If this joke seems good child, it nevertheless hides a rivalry and more concrete tensions between the two men, caused in part by their space race. In August, Elon Musk, always on the tone of humor, tweeted that “Besos [sic] retired [en tant que PDG d’Amazon] to be able to file a full-time complaint against SpaceX”.
Blue Origin, after losing a government contract to SpaceX to send astronauts to the moon, sued NASA. Elon Musk’s company had thus been delayed in its projects. But Jeff Bezos didn’t stop there. The Albuquerque billionaire’s empire also prompted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates telecommunications in the United States, to refuse the new plans submitted by SpaceX for the launch of the Starlink project. It is a constellation of satellites that have been in deployment since 2018 and would be used to power global internet service from space. For Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk’s plans for Starlink are not sufficiently clear and must be reassessed. Here, it is actually more of a request than a trial in due form.
It is also interesting to look at the original tweet posted by Jeff Bezos, below which Elon Musk awarded him this famous silver medal. This is the cover of May 31, 1999 of the American newspaper Barron’s, titled “Amazon.Bomb”. An article in this edition from 22 years ago announced the shipwreck of a certain Jeff Bezos and his young company, Amazon, at a time when online commerce was still an unknown and promising El Dorado. The cover read: “The idea that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has created a new business paradigm is stupid”. The billionaire was then described as a “simple intermediary” by the author of the article, who predicted that “the real winners of Internet commerce will be the firms which will sell their own products directly to the consumer”. “Look at what’s happening right now with Sony, Dell and Bertelsmann,” he added. Jeff Bezos’ Twitter account, in addition to posting this inflammatory headline, read: “Listen and be open, but don’t let anyone tell you who you are. This was just one of many articles that reminded us how much we were going to fail. Today, Amazon is one of the most successful companies in the world and has revolutionized two totally different industries”. The author of the article must bite his fingers.