The Space Rivalry Between Jeff Bezos & Elon Musk has Extended to Cars

Originally published on the EV Annex blog

by Matt Pressman

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are two of biggest names in today’s business world. The two have much in common. Each of these visionaries has leveraged modern technology to transform an industry. Both have deep interest in space exploration. But the two don’t always see eye-to-eye. With Bezos making acquisitions in the automotive industry, investing in electric and autonomous vehicle companies in particular, Musk doesn’t appear to be (hmmm) pleased.

YouTube: Motard Squid via Recode

So what’s going on? Well, Amazon just acquired Zoox, a self-driving car company. Last year, Amazon invested in autonomous car firm Aurora Innovation. Bezos’ company also decided to invest in electric vehicle maker Rivian. Musk isn’t exactly flattered by all this imitation — Elon recently tweeted that Bezos is a “copy cat” and that it’s “time to break up Amazon” according to GeekWire.

Electrifying Bezos’ ambitions, Amazon is publicly planning to make 50% of deliveries net zero carbon by 2030. This is, undoubtedly, a good thing. That said, is Amazon really making moves onto Tesla’s turf?

Let’s be clear. There’s definitely a competitive vibe between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk — their rivalry in the spaceflight arena also has a history of some Twitter banter. Looking back, Musk tweeted Bezos was a “copy catpreviously (in 2019) when Amazon’s plans to develop its Project Kuiper broadband satellite network surfaced — looking eerily similar to Musk’s SpaceX Starlink project.

Forget who has the bigger (ahem) rocket for a moment. Let’s take a step back and look at these two business mavericks and their respective companies. Bezos founded a scrappy online retailer in 1994 and turned it into the dominant e-commerce behemoth. Pushing forward the rise of e-commerce, Amazon has clearly changed the way the world shops.

In contrast, Tesla was founded in 2003, and Musk has grown it to become the second most valuable automaker in market value. Tesla has succeeded in showing us the path to its goal of electrifying the world’s transportation system, but much of the auto industry is (unfortunately) still taking a wait-and-see approach.

So, does that leave ample room for Amazon to enter the EV/AV game? The Seattle-based e-commerce giant certainly has some pocket change lying around. Amazon has about $43.7 billion cash on hand. In contrast, Tesla’s cash position stands at around $6.3 billion.

YouTube Sam Cornwell via BBC

How about Musk vs. Bezos? Who’s got the bigger bankroll? According to an article in Bloomberg from earlier this month, Musk is now worth a respectable $43.1 billion, but Bezos boasts being the wealthiest man in history, with an estimated net worth over $148 billion.

Granted, Jeff Bezos (and Amazon) have some deep pockets. No doubt about it. But should Musk run scared? Well, if the Blue Origin vs. SpaceX rivalry is any indication, I don’t think Elon Musk is about to shrink from this challenge. After all, he’s had to contend with plenty of Alligator-like adversaries before.

Featured Image: Tesla Model Y Unveiling Elon Musk Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

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