NEW YORK (VINnews) — If you think that exceedingly wealthy people can be magnanimous towards others in their unique category, think again. The adage in Koheles that “a lover of money never has his fill of money” has never been more relevant than in an age when some people’s individual wealth is almost beyond imagination.
On Monday, Elon Musk became the third person ever to amass a fortune worth $200 billion, according to Forbes, surpassing Amazon founder and rival space billionaire Jeff Bezos who is worth a mere $192.5 billion. Reached for comment by Forbes, the first thing Musk chose to do is to snub Bezos.
“I’m sending a giant statue of the digit ‘2’ to Jeffrey B., along with a silver medal,” Musk wrote in a short email.
Yet the rivalry between the two men, whose combined wealth is more than the entire annual budget of Israel, does not stem only from their fluctuating fortunes (Bezos was worth $115 billion in March 2020, when Musk had just $24.6 billion. In recent months both have briefly held the title of the world’s wealthiest person) but also from their dual aspirations to conquer space as well as the realm of autonomous driving.
Musk’s SpaceX satellites which provide internet coverage to most corners of the earth were duly imitated by Bezos who has announced plans to launch similar internet-beaming satellites into space. At the same time Bezos recently acquired self-driving car company Zoox, which is competing with Musk’s Tesla company to produce the ultimate autonomous car.
In July 2021, Bezos flew famously into orbit on a Blue Origin spacecraft designed by his company for a ten-minute ride above earth. In recent years the two have sparred over space issues, with Bezos mocking Musk’s dream of colonizing Mars. “My friends who want to move to Mars? I say, ‘Do me a favor. Go live on the top of Mount Everest for a year first and see if you like it—because it’s a garden paradise compared to Mars,’” Bezos said in a 2019 talk.
Meanwhile, the two competing space companies have been embroiled in a battle over NASA’s plans to build a lunar lander. In April, the U.S. federal space agency awarded a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX, rejecting a bid by Blue Origin. In the ensuing months, Bezos’ company threatened litigation, prompting Musk to mock Blue Origin’s lander design, tweeting a photo of the design with the caption “somehow, this wasn’t convincing”.
Bezos responded by filing his lawsuit against the US government over the lander contract, to which Musk responded scornfully, tweeting that “If lobbying and lawyers could get you to orbit, Bezos would be on Pluto [right now].”
After Amazon requested that the Federal Communications Commission reject an update by SpaceX to its Starlink satellite plan, SpaceX wrote back to the FCC earlier this month that Amazon was attempting to “slow down competition.” Musk added his own commentary on Twitter, quipping: “Turns out Besos (sic) retired in order to pursue a full-time job filing lawsuits against SpaceX.”
However the two still manage to maintain cordiality when not sparring on business dealings. Prior to Bezos’s July flight to space, Musk wished him and his crew good luck. Bezos in return recently congratulated Musk on the successful launch of the Inspiration4 spacecraft onto a three-day flight around Earth’s orbit. “Another step toward a future where space is accessible to all of us,” Bezos wrote. Musk’s response: “Thank you.” It remains to be seen whether the friendship between the two superbillionaires will transcend the bad business blood between them.