Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world, with a fortune worth $131 billion, but he finds the work he does for Blue Origin more important. Every year, Bezos liquidates $1 billion to invest in the space travel program with the ultimate goal of settling outside of Earth.
- Jeff Bezos — the richest person on Earth — liquidates $1 billion of Amazon stock every year to invest in space travel.
- Bezos is the CEO and founder of Amazon, the source of his $131 billion fortune, which he thinks will be easy to blow through.
- Bezos' Blue Origin aims to send people to space and eventually, have human settlements beyond Earth.
Yet, even the richest person in the world thinks he will go through all of his wealth. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said as much in an interview with Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Business Insider's parent company, Axel Springer, and Business Insider US editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell.
"The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel," Bezos said. "I am going to use my financial lottery winnings from Amazon to fund that."
Bezos plans to spend his fortune — the largest wealth in the world — on space travel through Blue Origin, which he called his most important project.
"I get increasing conviction with every passing year, that Blue Origin, the space company, is the most important work that I'm doing. And so there is a whole plan for Blue Origin," Bezos said in Berlin after winning the Axel Springer Award 2018.
While it may be unfathomable to spend over $100 billion on any venture, Bezos is confident that space travel can lighten his purse.
"That is basically it. Blue Origin is expensive enough to be able to use that fortune. I am liquidating about $1 billion a year of Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin. And I plan to continue to do that for a long time," Bezos said.
However much Bezos invests in Blue Origin, he will still have money to spend on his family. Discussing a recent family vacation to Norway, Bezos highlighted the fact that he doesn't feel as if he needs to hold onto all of his money for personal use.
"I have lots of pleasures, and we just came back from an amazing trip with the kids, MacKenzie and I did," Bezos said. "We went to Norway for three days and we stayed in an ice hotel. We went dogsledding. We went to a wolf preserve and actually got to interact with timber wolves. It really was an incredible vacation, a pretty incredible holiday. We got it all done in three and a half days."
Space is not a new frontier for the founder of Amazon. According to him, Bezos is "interested in space, because I'm passionate about it. I've been studying it and thinking about it since I was a 5-year-old boy."
Bezos rationalizes his spacey spending spree by noting he doesn't have many alternative ways to spend his fortune.
"You're not going to spend it on a second dinner out. That's not what we are talking about," Bezos said. "I am very lucky that I feel like I have a mission-driven purpose with Blue Origin that is, I think, incredibly important for civilization long term."
Aside from an academic interest in space, Bezos thinks space travel is necessary to cultivate and support a more advanced and larger human civilization. "I'm pursuing this work, because I believe if we don't we will eventually end up with a civilization of stasis, which I find very demoralizing. I don't want my great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren to live in a civilization of stasis," he said.
Mentioning Earth's cap on energy usage, Bezos said that settling in outer space can increase human production and efficiency.
"The solar system can easily support a trillion humans. And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited, for all practical purposes, resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes." Bezos said "that's the world that I want my great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren to live in."
It is clear what Bezos thinks is the next step for Blue Origin and space travel. "We may put humans in it at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year. We are very close," to human flight on Blue Origin shuttles, according to Bezos.
The company is also working on a large orbital vehicle that "will fly for the first time in 2020." He plans on "having millions of people and then billions of people and then finally a trillion people in space."