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Category Archives: Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos can afford to buy every team in the NFL—with enough left over for every NYC sports team

Jeff Bezos can buy pretty much anything he wants. So people tend to take notice when the world’s richest person is reportedly thinking about making a big purchase.

CBS Sports reported on Nov. 10 that Bezos is interested in buying an NFL team, and that he’s spent “considerable time” with NFL owners such as Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins. And The Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, reported on Thursday that the billionaire has privately expressed an interest in buying the Seattle Seahawks.

But if Bezos truly is interested in becoming an owner, his world-leading estimated net worth of $109.5 billion is enough to buy every single team in the NFL — and then some.

The total value of each of the 32 NFL franchises, based on Forbes’ latest ranking of every team’s estimated values, is nearly $91.4 billion.

That includes the league’s most valuable team, the Dallas Cowboys at $5.5 billion, according to Forbes, which also valued the Redskins at $3.4 billion and the Seahawks at about $2.78 billion.

That would leave Bezos $18 billion, meaning he could also afford to buy every other major New York City sports team, which together are valued at $14.8 billion.

That would include the MLB’s New York Yankees (worth an estimated $4.6 billion, according to Forbes) and New York Mets ($2.3 billion), the NBA’s New York Knicks ($4 billion) and Brooklyn Nets ($2.35 billion), as well as the NHL’s New York Rangers ($1.55 billion). The price does not include the New York Giants and New York Jets, which are both already included in the NFL franchises sum.

Of course, in order to pull off such a massive spate of sports deals, the Amazon CEO would have to liquidate his many assets, including his multimillion-dollar homes and other investments.

Bezos would also need to sell most of his shares in the tech giant he founded, as the bulk of Bezos’ wealth stems from his more than 57.6 million shares of Amazon stock (a number that was closer to 80 million shares before Bezos transferred nearly 20 million shares to his ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, as part of their divorce settlement in August).

And while it may be extremely unlikely that Bezos would ever trade his massive portfolio of assets for the bragging rights associated with owning every NFL team, plus every other major New York City sports team (it’s also unlikely all of the team owners would be willing to sell), it still goes to show just how absurdly wealthy Bezos is that he could technically pull of that feat and still have more than $3 billion left for a rainy day.

Bezos isn’t even the only billionaire with a large enough net worth to buy every single NFL team: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (with a net worth of $107.3 billion) and French fashion mogul Bernard Arnault ($106.8 billion), the second- and third-wealthiest people in the world, can afford it too.

Though Bezos has not publicly commented on whether or not he’s genuinely looking to buy his way into the NFL (and Amazon has so far declined to comment), the billionaire has been floated before as a potential buyer for the Seahawks. Paul Allen, the billionaire who co-founded Microsoft with Gates, was the Seahawks’ owner until his death in 2018 (the team is now officially owned by Allen’s trust and run by his sister, Jody).

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed interest in another tech billionaire like Bezos buying the Seahawks last year, telling Sports Illustrated: “I’d carry him piggyback to get him to the NFL.” Meanwhile, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the Post that he’d welcome Bezos as an NFL owner in Seattle (anyone buying an NFL team needs to be approved by at least 24 of 32 existing NFL owners).

“I’m sure that eventually it would be in everyone’s best interests if someone that’s as community-oriented as him gets involved in the Seattle situation,” Kraft said, as Amazon is headquartered in Seattle and Bezos owns a $25 million home in nearby Medina, Washington.

As for the Redskins, Amazon is also building a second headquarters outside of Washington, D.C., where Bezos also has a $23 million mansion.

If Bezos decides to buy a team, it would make him the NFL’s wealthiest owner (obviously), surpassing Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and his $12 billion fortune.


Home Industries Internet/Online Services The Margin GET EMAIL ALERTS Bill Gates passes Jeff Bezos for title of world’s richest person

For the first time in two years, Jeff Bezos is no longer the richest person in the world. But the new No. 1 is a familiar name.

Bill Gates is back on top, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with a fortune of $110 billion as of Friday’s market close. Bezos is just below, at $109 billion.

The Inc. AMZN, -0.86%   founder and chief executive lost a good chunk of his fortune in his recent divorce. His ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, now has a cool $35 billion, good enough for 24th place on Bloomberg’s list.

Gates, meanwhile, has benefited from the soaring stock of the company he co-founded, Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +1.29%  , which has risen 48% year to date. More recently, shares have gained 4% since Microsoft was awarded the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI cloud-computing contract at the end of October. Amazon shares have shrunk about 2% since then. Amazon said last week it intends to protest the decision, which it claims was biased.

According to the Bloomberg list, Gates’ fortune has increased by $19.5 billion this year, while Bezos’s has fallen by $16.2 billion.

Both billionaires could see their net worth dinged a bit more if a Democrat such as Elizabeth Warren wins the White House next year. Under her proposed wealth tax, Gates would pay more than $6 billion annually. Gates, who has pledged to give away most of his fortune to charity, has said he’d happy to pay more in taxes. “If I had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine,” he recently said.

See: This is what the net worth of the world’s elite would look like if Elizabeth Warren’s tax plan had been in effect since 1982

Lurking just behind Gates and Bezos on the Bloomberg list is French business magnate Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy SE MC, +0.43%  , whose $103 billion fortune has increased by about a third — $34.1 billion — this year.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRK.B, +0.17%   Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett is fourth, with $86.6 billion, and Facebook Inc. FB, +1.01%   CEO Mark Zuckerberg rounds out the top five at $74.5 billion.


Jeff Bezos asked Michael Bloomberg months ago if he’d consider running for president

Sometime after Amazon pulled the plug on plans for a New York City headquarters in February of this year, the city’s former Mayor Michael Bloomberg received a call from a top company executive.

It wasn’t just any Amazon executive — it was Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and CEO and the world’s richest man.

Bezos was calling with a question for his fellow billionaire and media mogul: Would Bloomberg consider entering the 2020 presidential race?

Bloomberg told Bezos no at the time, according to a person briefed on the phone conversation.

But he had a question of his own for Amazon’s CEO: Would Bezos reconsider his decision to cancel plans for an Amazon headquarters — dubbed HQ2 — in New York City?

Bezos’s response matched Bloomberg’s — he wouldn’t.

A spokesperson for Bloomberg confirmed the conversation. An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Now, months later, Bloomberg is in fact on the cusp of entering the race for the Democratic nomination as he’s watched the party’s leading moderate, former Vice President Joe Biden, struggle. On Friday, Bloomberg filed paperwork to qualify for the presidential primary in Alabama, which has the earliest deadline of any state. He has still not announced his candidacy.

It’s unclear what prompted Bezos’s call earlier this year, or what he thinks of Bloomberg’s recent inching toward the race. It’s also not known whether the discussion took place before or after Bloomberg’s March 5 announcement that he wouldn’t run for president.

Bezos, who’s been described as a libertarian, has largely stayed out of the world of big-money political donations, other than a $10 million gift with his then-wife MacKenzie to a super PAC that aims to elect military veterans to congressional office.

But it’s easy to imagine that a man worth more than $100 billion wouldn’t mind a new business-minded presidential opponent to Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Both of those contenders for the Democratic nomination have made economic inequality centerpieces of their campaigns.

Warren has proposed a wealth tax for the uber wealthy like Bill Gates and Leon Cooperman, who each recently publicly expressed concerns about the plan. Sanders simply doesn’t think billionaires should exist and has his own wealth tax proposal.

Each of the senators are also vocal critics of Amazon on topics ranging from its treatment of warehouse workers to its growing power in retail and other industries. Warren, of course, has outlined a plan to break up Amazon, along with other tech giants.

Some believe a Bloomberg candidacy could actually boost Warren’s chances of landing the nomination by weakening Biden (who top Amazon spokesman Jay Carney once worked for when he was vice president). Others are cheering the former New York City mayor on.

As for Bezos, we still don’t know exactly what he thinks. But he was interested enough in the idea of a Bloomberg presidency to make a call.


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos interested in owning NFL team, has strong support among current owners

Multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos has interest in purchasing an NFL team and has become close with several current owners, according to league sources, and has strong support within the league to eventually join their ranks. Bezos, the Amazon mogul who also owns the Washington Post, has spend considerable time around owners, including Washington’s Dan Snyder, and is in the process of moving to Washington.

Bezos is one of the richest people on the planet and watched the last Super Bowl from commissioner Roger Goodell’s suite, sources said. Powerful owners like Jerry Jones believe he would be a great addition to the NFL, to say nothing of the ability to pay top dollar, in cash, for a franchise to his liking as they become available. There are not any teams currently on the market, though the Seattle Seahawks will be sold at some point following the death of Paul Allen last year, and there is considerable concern in the league office about the mounting lawsuits from various heirs to former Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, with that team possibly heading to the market in a few years as well.

Bezos’ move to Washington is creating a stir in that area, as is his ties to Snyder. Snyder has been trying for years to get a state-of-the-art downtown stadium built in DC, growing increasingly frustrated by the location and age of FedEx Field. Bezos moved the Washington Post to a new location after purchasing the paper, is setting up an Amazon hub in the area and some believe could aid Snyder’s pursuit of a new stadium, perhaps even with an Amazon sponsorship.

Regardless, he is someone who will be increasingly tied to potential franchise sales in the coming years, league sources said, and on a short list of those who could quickly execute a complicated transaction of that nature in short order.


Jeff Bezos Is No Longer The World’s Richest Man. He Loses Title To…

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has lost the title as the world’s richest man, paving the way for tenacious Bill Gates to grab the top spot after Amazon’s lacklustre Q3 results resulted in Mr Bezos losing nearly $7 billion in stock value.
Amazon shares fell 7 per cent in after-hours trading on Thursday, leaving Mr Bezos down to $103.9 billion.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is currently worth $105.7 billion.

Mr Bezos ended Mr Gates’ 24-year run as the richest man in 2018 and became the first man on earth with a net worth of $160 billion.

Amazon reported a 26 per cent drop in net income in its third quarter, its first profit decline since 2017, reports Forbes.

In after-hours trading, Amazon dropped nearly 9 per cent to $1,624 per share.

Gates debuted on Forbes’ first ever billionaire list in 1987 with a net worth of $1.25 billion.

Mr Bezos first joined The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1998, one year after Amazon went public, with a net worth of $1.6 billion, the report added.

The Bezos couple finalised their divorce in April in what was reported as the biggest divorce settlement in history, entitling MacKenzie Bezos to Jeff Bezos’ stocks worth around $36 billion.


Amazon Reports Shrinking Profits in Third Quarter. But It’s Actually Good News

Amazon’s stock price tumbled temporarily on Thursday after the company reported a 28 percent decline in profits for the third quarter, compared to the same quarter last year. The company also forecast much lower profits in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to the same quarter in 2018.

Those results led analysts and expert observers to proclaim that the company had shot itself in the foot with its decision to move from free two-day shipping to free one-day shipping on Prime orders, a benefit it began rolling out in June. Amazon reported that one-day shipping had raised shipping costs even more than the $800 million the company forecast in the third quarter–and that the fourth quarter (which includes the holiday season) would see shipping costs increase by $1.5 billion over last year’s fourth quarter because of it.

So perhaps it isn’t surprising that Amazon’s share price plunged by 10 percent after the announcement, while reporters wrote stories with headlines such as “Amazon is delivering your package faster, and that’s tanking its profits.” The prevailing expert viewpoint, at least on Thursday, was: Bad move, Amazon! One Forrester analyst said this of the company’s new higher shipping costs: “For what? Is that necessary? Who needs Cheetos that fast?”

But I would venture to say that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (who was very briefly unseated as the world’s wealthiest human when the share price fell) doesn’t care much about these comments because he’s been through this exact scenario many times. Investors don’t seem to care that much either–after the initial plunge, Amazon’s share price rebounded on Friday and ended the week down about 2 percent from where it started. Like Bezos, investors whose memory goes back more than three months know they’ve seen this movie before.

Was Amazon stock priced too high at $260?
Like, for example, in December of 2012, when Travis Hoium at the Motley Fool noted Amazon’s slowing revenue and profit growth, argued that this whole Prime free shipping idea was too much of a drag on Amazon’s profits, and concluded by declaring: “With income falling and competition only getting stronger and smarter, I think these questions are reason enough to stay away from Amazon’s stock. In fact, I’ve shorted it myself.”

At the time, Amazon stock was trading at around $260. Right now, despite last week’s disappointing earnings announcement, it’s at around $1,750 in after-hours trading.

If there’s one thing smart observers and smart investors understand about Jeff Bezos it is that he’s willing to ignore the short term and manage for the long term. He’s always been happy to forego this quarter’s profits in favor of world domination five or ten years from now. So far most of his bets have paid off, and I believe the bet on one-day Prime shipping will as well.

As it happens, the Sunday before Amazon’s earnings announcement, I had a one-year-old’s birthday party to attend. I inquired what she (or her parents) might like, and her grandmother suggested a Target gift card. That seemed like a good plan–there was actually a Target on the way to the party–but out of idle curiosity on Saturday afternoon, I did a little online research about the best toys for one-year-olds. I immediately became obsessed with something called the Tobbles Neo which looked like a simple and wonderful thing for a baby to play with and unlike any other toy I’d ever seen. None of the big box stores within a 40-mile radius had one. But Amazon did, and it promised to deliver it the following day, even though it was a Sunday. And so I bought it.

I’ll just note for the record that by offering one-day Prime shipping, Amazon gained a sale, and Target, one of its biggest competitors lost one. No, I didn’t need overnight delivery of Cheetos, and strictly speaking I didn’t exactly need the Tobbles Neo either. But I was quite pleasantly surprised that I could get one.

Love him or hate him, Jeff Bezos usually seems to know what he’s doing, and I believe he very much knows what he’s doing with one-day Prime shipping. And that betting against him is no smarter today than it was back in December 2012.


Jeff Bezos, Where Is my Amazon Drone Delivery?

Back in 2014, Jeff Bezos said that Amazon (AMZN) would use drones to deliver packages to customers. The idea was great. Customers would get quicker deliveries, and it’s a pro-environment plan. Also, Amazon would lead the way in the age of tech logistics in e-commerce. And, the visionary Jeff Bezos could be the undisputed leader of the future.

However, all the plans now seem to have vanished in thin air. After five years, Amazon is still trying to get its drone delivery plans as a full-time feature across the US. However, UPS (UPS), the American logistics company, has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Interestingly, the FAA approved the UPS request without any restrictions. In essence, no limits on package size or the scale of operations. UPS made its first drone delivery to WakeMed’s hospital on September 27. UPS could revolutionalize the healthcare sector by using drone delivery. Sounds interesting! By the way, what is the latest update on Amazon drones?

Amazon’s presentation in Greentech 2019
Amazon’s presentation on its drone delivery system, Prime Air, has garnered a lot of responses in the Green Tech Conference 2019. Also, the Environmental Law Institute organized the event. The agenda covered topics on environment protection and the role of technology. The two-day conference took place in Seattle, Washington, between October 1 and October 3.

Obviously, Amazon co-sponsored the event with many other companies. The US-based global e-commerce company was listed among the platinum sponsors for the event. During the conference, a high ranking executive from Amazon spoke about different facets of Prime Air.

Back in 2014, Jeff Bezos said that Amazon (AMZN) would use drones to deliver packages to customers. The idea was great. Customers would get quicker deliveries, and it’s a pro-environment plan. Also, Amazon would lead the way in the age of tech logistics in e-commerce. And, the visionary Jeff Bezos could be the undisputed leader of the future.

However, all the plans now seem to have vanished in thin air. After five years, Amazon is still trying to get its drone delivery plans as a full-time feature across the US. However, UPS (UPS), the American logistics company, has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Interestingly, the FAA approved the UPS request without any restrictions. In essence, no limits on package size or the scale of operations. UPS made its first drone delivery to WakeMed’s hospital on September 27. UPS could revolutionalize the healthcare sector by using drone delivery. Sounds interesting! By the way, what is the latest update on Amazon drones?

Amazon’s presentation in Greentech 2019
Amazon’s presentation on its drone delivery system, Prime Air, has garnered a lot of responses in the Green Tech Conference 2019. Also, the Environmental Law Institute organized the event. The agenda covered topics on environment protection and the role of technology. The two-day conference took place in Seattle, Washington, between October 1 and October 3.

Obviously, Amazon co-sponsored the event with many other companies. The US-based global e-commerce company was listed among the platinum sponsors for the event. During the conference, a high ranking executive from Amazon spoke about different facets of Prime Air.

Environment and drones
The vice president of Amazon Prime Air, Gur Kimchi, talked about how Amazon drones could be good for the environment. “It is the safest and most environmentally responsible and also highly scalable,” Kimchi said. In addition, he said that the Prime Air program would make operational logistics more efficient. Above all, drones, instead of gasoline vehicles, could help the environment.

Amazon ordered 100,000 electric cars for its delivery centers. Jeff Bezos announced the purchase on September 19. Of course, the bulk order is just one of the steps Amazon is taking to start its climate sustainability initiative.

Prime Air drones and safety
Amazon engineers are working on a drone model that looks like a cartwheel. Also, the drone will have a range of 7.5 miles. Kimchi said that the focus was to make the drones “independently safe.” For this reason, Prime Air engineers have given a TLS (targeted level of safety) for all of its drones.

Needless to say, the TLS estimates consider many factors. These factors include a loss of system control, probability of a lethal event, area of impact, population density, and absence of safe shelter. In a letter sent to the US Department of Transportation, Amazon gave a detailed plan for drone safety measures. The exemption could allow for the use of commercial drones.

Drone deliveries: Amazon competitors
UPS and Amazon are not the only companies going into drone delivery. Even Alphabet Inc (GOOGL), the parent company of Google, is looking into the technology. Wing Aviation, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, is developing new models of self-flying delivery drones.

Even Amazon drones will have many impressive features that will ease navigation. The drones will have heat sensor cameras and depth cameras. Additionally, the drones will be designed to navigate smoothly.

Amazon long-term notes redemption
Amazon gave long-term notes at 2.600% in December 2014. The notes, worth $1 billion, shall be redeemed in full on November 5, 2019. At the time of redemption, the company will also pay the accrued interest until November 4. The next series of long-term debt will be 1.900% notes due on August 21, 2020.

A debt series given after Jeff Bezos talked about Amazon drone delivery is due for redemption next month. But the Prime Air drone deliveries are still nowhere to be seen. I believe this is the point where most investors would ask, “When will we get our delivery?” Could Amazon start drone delivery before the next debt series is redeemed? Only Jeff Bezos could answer that.



Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos slammed for his plans for regulating face recognition

Seattle: Civil rights groups have criticised Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for a statement that his company is working on its own regulation framework for the controversial facial recognition technology.

Appearing before the media at his company’s annual product event where it launched a slew of new smart home devices, Bezos said: “Our public policy team is actually working on facial recognition regulations; it makes a lot of sense to regulate that.

“It’s a perfect example of something that has really positive uses, so you don’t want to put the brakes on it,” added Bezos, according to Recode.

“But, at the same time, there’s also potential for abuses of that kind of technology, so you do want regulations. It’s a classic dual-use kind of technology,” he told the reporters.

The announcement to write own regulations for the face recognition technology which been in the controversy for long did not go well with the activist groups.

“Amazon wants to write the laws governing facial recognition to make sure they’re friendly to their surveillance-driven business model,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, was quoted as saying in a Fox News report.

“This type of technology is uniquely dangerous. It poses a profound threat to the future of human liberty that can’t be mitigated by industry-friendly regulations,” he added.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the tech giant needs to do more than propose a legislation.

“If Amazon is really interested in preventing these dangers, the first thing it should do is stop pushing surveillance tools into our communities without regard for the impact,” the ACLU’s senior legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani said in a statement.

Amazon isn’t the only tech company calling for regulating the facial recognition technology.

Microsoft and its President Brad Smith are also urging governments to enact legislation regarding the technology.

The tech industry needs to step up and do more to address challenges related to regulation, said Smith in his new book titled “Tools and Weapons”.

Given the potential for abuse of the fast advancing facial recognition technology, governments across the world need to start adopting laws to regulate this technology in 2019, Smith said last year.

“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” warned Smith in a blog post.

“The use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms,” he said in December last year.

Amazon has also defended the face recognition.

New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse. Instead, there should be open, honest, and earnest dialogue among all parties involved to ensure that the technology is applied appropriately and is continuously enhanced,” the company said in a February blog post.

Amazon offers “Rekognition”—a facial recognition tool that has been used to spot criminals.

In August, the ACLU found that “Rekognition” tool wrongly flagged more than two dozen California lawmakers as criminal. In another test last year, it marked 28 members of Congress as criminals.


NASA awards $10M to Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin for hydrogen-oxygen storage tech

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture is on the top of the funding list for a newly announced round of “Tipping Point” funding from NASA for technologies that could be applied to exploration and settlement of the moon and Mars.

Headquartered in Kent, Wash., Blue Origin will be awarded $10 million to conduct a ground-based demonstration of hydrogen and oxygen liquefaction and storage.

“The demonstration could help inform a large-scale propellant production plant suitable for the lunar surface,” NASA said today in a news release.

Such a technology meshes with a scenario in which lunar water ice is mined on the moon, and then converted through electrolysis into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas in accordance with the formula 2H2O → 2H2 + O2. The gas that’s produced would have to be cryogenically chilled into liquid form for storage and use as sources of energy.

Blue Origin’s proposed Blue Moon lunar lander could use the hydrogen and oxygen not only for its BE-7 rocket engine, but also for electricity-producing fuel cells. Fuel cells could also provide power for habitats and rovers on the moon.

Thirteen other companies will be receiving smaller payouts in accordance with NASA’s fourth round of Tipping Point awards, which adds up to a combined value of $43.2 million. During last year’s round, Blue Origin was awarded $10 million for work on cryogenic liquid propulsion

“These promising technologies are at a ‘tipping point’ in their development, meaning NASA’s investment is likely the extra push a company needs to significantly mature a capability,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “These are important technologies necessary for sustained exploration of the moon and Mars. As the agency focuses on landing astronauts on the moon by 2024 with the Artemis program, we continue to prepare for the next phase of lunar exploration that feeds forward to Mars.”

NASA will make milestone payments to the companies over a performance period of up to 36 months, under the terms of firm fixed-price contracts. Each industry partner is required to devote some of their own money to the project, following a percentage formula that’s based on the company’s size.

Here are the other Tipping Point awards, organized by theme:

Cryogenic propellant production and management

  • OxEon Energy LLC of North Salt Lake, Utah, $1.8 million: OxEon Energy will work with the Colorado School of Mines to integrate an electrolysis technology to process ice and separate the hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Skyre Inc. of East Hartford, Conn., $2.6 million: Skyre, also known as Sustainable Innovations, along with partner Meta Vista USA LLC, will develop a system to make propellant from permanently frozen water located at the moon’s poles, including processes to separate the hydrogen and oxygen, keep the product cold and use hydrogen as a refrigerant to liquefy oxygen.
  • SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif., $3 million: SpaceX will collaborate with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to develop and test coupler prototypes – or nozzles – for refueling spacecraft such as the company’s Starship vehicle.

Sustainable energy generation, storage and distribution

  • Infinity Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Inc. of Windsor, Conn., $4 million: The company will collaborate with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to develop a scalable, modular and flexible power and energy product that utilizes new manufacturing methods to reduce cost and improve reliability. The technology could be used for lunar rovers, surface equipment and habitats.
  • Paragon Space Development Corp. of Houston, $2 million: Paragon will work with Johnson and NASA’s Glenn Research Center to develop an environmental control and life support system as well as a thermal control system for lunar missions that maintain acceptable operating temperatures throughout the moon’s day and night cycle.
  • TallannQuest LLC of Sachse, Texas, $2 million: Working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the company, also known as Apogee Semiconductor, will develop a radiation-hardened switching power controller capable of being configured based on a mission’s power needs. This technology could be used for missions to the moon, Mars, Europa and other destinations.

Efficient and affordable propulsion systems

  • Accion Systems Inc. of Boston, $3.9 million: The first interplanetary CubeSats, NASA’s MarCO-A and B, used a set of cold gas thrusters for attitude control and course corrections during their cruise to Mars, alongside the Mars InSight lander. Accion and JPL will partner to mature a propulsion system to demonstrate the same capabilities as those required for the MarCO mission, but with a smaller and lighter system that uses less power.
  • CU Aerospace LLC of Champaign, Illinois, $1.7 million: CU Aerospace, NearSpace Launch and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will build and test a 6-unit CubeSat equipped with two different propulsion systems. These systems were developed with NASA Small Business Innovation Research  funding and offer high performance, low cost and safe pre-launch processing. The company plans to deliver the flight-ready CubeSat to NanoRacks for launch and deployment.
  • ExoTerra Resource LLC of Littleton, Colorado, $2 million: ExoTerra will build, test and launch a 12-unit CubeSat with a compact, high impulse solar electric propulsion module. Once flight-ready, the system will be demonstrated in-space as the CubeSat moves from low Earth orbit to the radiation belts surrounding Earth. This small electric propulsion system could open up the inner solar system for targeted science exploration missions.

Autonomous operations

  • Blue Canyon Technologies Inc. of Boulder, Colo., $4.9 million: As access to space increases, so does the need for ground resources, such as tracking stations. With an in-space demonstration, Blue Canyon will mature an autonomous navigation software solution for small satellites so they can traverse space without having to “talk” to Earth.

Rover mobility

  • Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, $2 million: Astrobotic and Carnegie Mellon University will work with JPL and Kennedy Space Center to develop small rover “scouts” that can host payloads and interface with multiple large landers. This project received previous NASA funding through SBIR awards.

Advanced avionics

  • Intuitive Machines LLC of Houston, $1.3 million: Development of a spacecraft vision processing computer and software to reduce the cost and schedule required for deploying optical or laser navigation capabilities on government and commercial missions.
  • Luna Innovations of Blacksburg, Virginia, $2 million: Luna Innovations is partnering with Sierra Nevada Corp., ILC Dover and Johnson to prove the viability of sensors that monitor the structural health and safety of expandable space habitats located in orbit or on the surface of other worlds.


Jeff Bezos expanded Amazon’s climate change pledge. His workers want more

Unlike some of its rival technology giants, Inc. has never claimed a loftier purpose than selling its shoppers what they want, quickly and cheaply. Its mission statement: to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

As political storms have overtaken Facebook and Alphabet’s Google in the last few years, Amazon’s pursuit of commerce over utopian visions has mostly served it well, insulating it from charges of bias or hypocrisy and helping it remain one of Americans’ most trusted brands. But over the last year, a growing contingent of employees has been calling for the company to embrace the mantle of higher corporate responsibility and help combat the perils of climate change.

On Friday, hundreds of Amazon employees walked out of the firm’s Seattle headquarters, as did contingents from Amazon offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Toronto, Dublin and other cities, as part of a global “climate strike” also including employees of other companies, students and youth groups. The effort was timed ahead of a United Nations Climate Action Summit to be held Monday in New York.

The group leading the Amazon walkout — Amazon Employees for Climate Justice — has spent this year urging Chief Executive Jeff Bezos and the rest of senior management to take more urgent steps, and the workers’ efforts are a key reason Amazon’s overall environmental footprint increasingly is coming under scrutiny.

Their protests appeared to pay off Thursday when Bezos announced that Amazon would significantly step up its effort to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels to power its massive operations.

Under a new Climate Pledge, Amazon is committed to the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than called for under the United Nations Paris Agreement, Bezos said.

As part of that initiative, he said, Amazon will be using 100% renewable energy companywide by 2030, a goal the employees’ group has been seeking.

Amazon will order 100,000 electric-powered delivery trucks from the automaker Rivian as part of the effort, Bezos said. Amazon earlier had made a $440-million investment in Rivian.

“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue — we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” Bezos said in a statement, adding that Amazon is pushing for other companies to join the pledge.

The employees’ group responded on Twitter, saying that Amazon’s pledge was “a huge win” for the group and that “we’re thrilled at what the workers have achieved in under a year.”

“But we know it’s not enough,” the group said Thursday. “The Paris agreement, by itself, won’t get us to a livable world. Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we’ll be in the streets.”

On Friday, Maren Costa, an Amazon user experience designer, joined the walkout at company headquarters in Seattle and brought her three children. “Their generation is the one that is most impacted by the damage that our generation is doing,” she said. Costa, 50, said she has worked at Amazon for 15 years, helping to design the shopping website and launch Amazon Go stores.

“I was walking on air yesterday, I was so happy” about Bezos’ announcement, she said. “I’m so proud of Amazon for taking that big step forward. But it’s not enough.” She is among the employees who want the company to end its contracts with oil and gas companies.

The heightened focus on Amazon comes as Americans are increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change, according to a survey early this year by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Amazon’s slowness in switching to renewable energy has been one focus of its climate critics. They’ve also assailed the company, with sales of nearly $233 billion last year, for selling its computer services to the oil and natural gas industry, for shifting more toward plastic mailers for deliveries that are not easy to recycle, and for donating to the campaigns of congressional representatives who have voted against climate legislation.

“They need to do more and be more urgent,” said Danilo Quilaton, an Amazon product designer in San Francisco and one of the employee group’s organizers.

“Amazon employees are deeply concerned about the climate crisis, and we see how it’s impacting our lives,” Quilaton said. “They’re not moving fast enough.”

U.S. workers, especially in the technology industry, increasingly have been pushing for corporate activism on social and environmental matters.

At Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit, employees have protested the firm’s development of a search engine for China, its work on artificial intelligence for missile drones and its handling of sexual misconduct claims. In February, a group of Microsoft Corp. employees calling itself Microsoft Workers 4 Good called for the company to stop developing technology for military use. In May, more than 200 workers walked out of the Los Angeles headquarters of Riot Games Inc., maker of the “League of Legends” video game, over its handling of sexual discrimination lawsuits. Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter employees, among others, joined the Amazon workers in the climate protest Friday, and another of the Amazon group’s organizers, Emily Cunningham, tweeted Thursday that it would be the “first ever cross-tech walkout.”

At Amazon, the employee group in April wrote an open letter to Bezos and Amazon’s other directors calling for the company’s board to take more urgent steps to fight climate change. The letter, posted on the website Medium, has more than 8,100 signatures.

That’s only about 1% of Amazon’s workforce of 653,300 full- and part-time employees, but some analysts expected their activism would get the attention of Bezos — who is the world’s richest person, with a net worth of $113 billion, according to Forbes.

“It puts a lot of pressure on him to respond to this in a thoughtful way,” said Nell Minow, vice chairwoman of ValueEdge Advisors, which promotes strong corporate governance.


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