The richest man in the world is set to become the wealthiest person shot into space next month.
Yes, Jeff Bezos will actually be flying to space as a crew member of the New Shepherd on July 20th. The rocket ship is designed by his second-most well known company, Blue Origin.
Details of FlightThe flight is set to take off just 15 days after he officially resigns as the CEO of Amazon (AMZN). Some people celebrate retirement by visiting a tropical island on vacation but for Bezos the earth just isn’t quite enough to really celebrate.
A not-entirely unreasonable concern for investors in one of the world's largest companies might be wondering, "What happens if Bezos gets lost in space?"
The first thing to point out in all seriousness is that Jeff Bezos, his brother and the rest of the passengers and crew on the New Shepherd won’t be traveling into outer space. The ship is built to be suborbital. The trip itself is expected to last only 11 minutes so the chances of him being lost are beyond slim. Still, what should happen to Amazon if he decides to stay on the ship for longer than expected?
Role for AmazonWell the ship is taking off after Bezos’s resignation as the CEO of Amazon. He is leaving the company he founded in 1994 in the hands of Andy Jassy, who currently runs Amazon Web Services. Thus, the impact on Amazon will be far less than if he was still the active Chief Executive Officer (it's not exactly a coincidence this is happening after his retirement down).
Bezos in particular is set to become Executive Chairman of Amazon’s board where he is expected to spend his free time on initiatives such as the Bezos Earth Fund, Amazon Day 1 Fund, and of course his Blue Origin spaceship company. This pretty much means that Bezos will have very very little to do with the day-to-day operations of Amazon as Jassy will succeed him. If Bezos does want to have some input on decisions within the company, it will be up to Jassy to make sure Bezos's vision is carried out.
What Does Bezos's Resignation Say About the Future of Amazon?Jassy was chosen as the next CEO for a reason. He has been the CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS) since 2016. It’s no mistake that the CEO of AWS was chosen as that operation is the future of the company. AWS has increasingly become a larger part of Amazon and with the economy becoming increasingly technology focused, Amazon is in a great spot to take advantage of the coming times with AWS.
Amazon Web Services is used by the largest corporations and governments for cloud computing and data needs. The same way Amazon was ready to transition from an online bookstore to a varied e-commerce platform, it could be setting up for the next evolution of the company as a primarily on-demand cloud computing platform instead of just an online retailer.
Most Impacted If He Does Get LostThe closest comparison to this situation is really the most obvious, Bill Gates. Bill Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in 2008, but stayed on as chairman until 2014. The firm has barely skipped a beat. Gates became a "technology advisor", essentially a consultant for the company, but really focused his time on other passions. He devotes his time to things like vaccine research and other public health issues. Similarly Bezos has his passions including space travel, he recently said he has long dreamed of flying into space and is excited to finally do so with his brother.
Thus, if Bezos somehow gets lost in space, then the most impacted are actually the foundations and companies he is expected to work with going forward, not Amazon. Blue Origin would obviously not be in a good place losing its current CEO and having its own rocket ship be the cause. Additionally, initiatives Bezos is expected to work with such as the Bezos Earth Fund and Amazon Day 1 Fund would lose the support from the world's richest man.