Posts tagged with "Jeff Bezos"

Elon Musk scoops up 9.2% of Twitter after attacking the social media platform over ‘free speech’

April 5, 2022

For many years it has been his favorite method of communicating with his adoring fans and for needling regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission. So, perhaps, it was not entirely surprising to learn on April 4 that Elon Musk—one of the world’s richest men and an electric vehicle visionary—has built up a 9.2% stake in Twitter, according to filings made with the SEC on Monday, reports The Daily Beast.

The immediate impact of the news was simply to make Musk even richer, as Twitter shares jumped 26% in reaction to the news. Musk’s 73,486,938 Twitter shares were worth just under $2.9 billion on Friday, April 1’s closing price, but jumped to a $3.6 billion valuation as Musk acolytes rushed to buy positions in the stock.

Musk is now estimated to be worth around $287 billion, making him definitively much richer than the former holder of the top spot, Jeff Bezos, who languishes in second place with a mere $189 billion.

Just last month, The Daily Beast notes, Musk suggested he wanted to create his own social media network, while blasting Twitter’s approach to “free speech.”

“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Musk asked his followers.

“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk added. “Is a new platform needed?”

Musk’s acquisition of a significant stake in Twitter has been revealed after many years of sometimes compulsive tweeting, during which time he has become one of the social media platform’s most followed contributors, and also been accused of using the platform to pump up his stock value.

In 2018. he famously tweeted that he was “considering taking Tesla private at $420,” adding, “Funding secured.” Musk later said he picked the number 420, code for smoking weed in marijuana culture, to amuse his then-girlfriend, the musician and singer Grimes.

Grimes may have been entertained but the SEC were not, and the tweet triggered an investigation by them, which established that not only had Musk not secured funding for the proposed transaction but that “he allegedly knew that the potential transaction was uncertain and subject to numerous contingencies.”

The SEC said: “According to Musk, he calculated the $420 price per share based on a 20% premium over that day’s closing share price because he thought 20% was a ‘standard premium’ in going-private transactions.

“This calculation resulted in a price of $419, and Musk stated that he rounded the price up to $420 because he had recently learned about the number’s significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend ‘would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price’.”

The agency eventually settled with Musk, and he was ordered to pay $20 million and step down as chairman of Tesla. Tesla had to pay another $20 million. Musk also had to agree that he would not tweet without pre-approval from a company attorney. The billionaire has subsequently sought to challenge that settlement, saying the SEC has used the court agreement “to trample on Mr. Musk’s First Amendment rights and to impose prior restraints on his speech.”

The SEC disclosed recently that it is once again investigating Musk over a tweet. This time, the offending message was a November 2021 post in which he asked his 80 million followers if he should sell 10% of his stake in Tesla.

The SEC is seeking to establish if Musk obtained the necessary approval from company lawyers before posting the message.

Musk is also reportedly being investigated to see if he tipped his brother off about the poll.

Research contact: @thedailiybeast

Yokesters: The Dutch vow to egg Jeff Bezos’ yacht if a bridge is dismantled to let it pass through

February 11, 2022

It’s not exactly smooth sailing these days in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, where locals are voicing their objection to a plan that would temporarily dismantle an historic bridge to enable the passage of a mega-yacht reportedly owned by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, reports NPR.

In fact, some already are making plans—albeit, in jest—for what they will do if the project comes to fruition: Throw eggs at the yacht as it traverses the water under the Koningshaven Bridge, known locally as “De Hef.”

Some 13,000 people are “interested” and nearly 4,000 have said they will attendFacebook event titled “Throwing eggs at superyacht Jeff Bezos,” which has been shared more than 1,000 times in the week since its creation.

“Calling all Rotterdammers, take a box of rotten eggs with you and let’s throw them en masse at Jeff’s superyacht when it sails through the Hef in Rotterdam,” wrote organizer Pablo Strörmann.

He told the NL Times that the protest started as a joke among friends and has quickly gotten “way out of hand.” (The English-language news site also notes that this isn’t Strörmann’s first campaign to go viral.)

The news of De Hef’s potential disassembly, however brief, has clearly struck a chord with both locals and international observers.

It all started last week when Dutch broadcaster Rijnmond reported that the city appeared willing to grant a request to dismantle the centuries-old steel bridge so that Bezos’ yacht could pass through.

De Hef was built in 1927 as a railway bridge, with a midsection that can be lifted to allow ship traffic to pass underneath, according to The Washington Post. It was replaced by a tunnel and decommissioned in 1994–but was saved from demolition by public protests and later declared a national monument.

The yacht’s three masts apparently would be too high for the bridge’s roughly 130-foot clearance. The yacht in question was reportedly commissioned by Bezos and currently is being built at the Oceanco shipyard in The Netherlands, according to Boat International. It will comprise three masts with aluminum and steel construction and will measure more than 415 feet in length.

Once delivered, not only will she become the world’s largest sailing yacht, but she also will hold the title for the largest superyacht ever built in the Netherlands.

The waterway where the bridge sits is the only way the ship can get from the shipyard in Alblasserdam to the open seas, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. So Oceanco asked Rotterdam officials to temporarily remove the middle section of the bridge.

City spokesperson Netty Kros told the CBC that “the applicant” would cover the costs of the project but did not clarify whether that refers to the yacht’s owner, the shipbuilder or both.

Bloomberg reports that Oceanco will foot the bill. NPR has reached out to Amazon and Oceanco to confirm these details.

The city appeared to agree to the arrangement last week, with municipal project leader Marcel Walravens telling Rijnmond that the project would proceed for logistical and economic reasons. He said an exact plan was being developed but estimated it would take about a week to prepare and another week to “put everything back in place.”

Research contact: @NPR

To boldly go: William Shatner sets record in space with Blue Origin sub-orbital flight

October 14, 2021

William Shatner, the 90-year-old veteran of countless imaginary space voyages playing Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, blasted off for real Wednesday, October 13,—becoming the oldest person to reach the final frontier in a PR bonanza for Jeff Bezos and his rocket company Blue Origin, reports CBS News.

Over the course of about 11 minutes, Shatner and three crewmates took off atop a hydrogen-fueled rocket, climbed to edge of space more than 62 miles up and enjoyed three to four minutes of weightlessness, along with spectacular views of Earth, before plunging back to a gentle parachute-assisted touchdown.

“It was so moving to me,” Shatner said after landing. “This experience is something unbelievable.”

He said he was overwhelmed, and that Bezos has given him the most profound experience he can imagine. “I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened … it’s extraordinary,” he told Bezos.

“I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now,” he said. “I don’t want to lose it.”

The flight marked only the second crewed launch of a New Shepard capsule since Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen took off on July 20 on the company’s first such flight.

Shatner eclipsed Funk’s age record by eight years and John Glenn’s mark before that by 13.

“I want to see space, I want to see the Earth, I want to see what we need to do to save Earth,” Shatner told Gayle King on “CBS Mornings” before launch. “I want to have a perspective that hasn’t been shown to me before. That’s what I’m interested in seeing.”

Boshuizen and de Vries paid undisclosed sums for their seats aboard the New Shepard spacecraft, but Shatner was an invited guest of Blue Origin. Powers, a former NASA flight controller who is now Blue Origin vice president of flight operations, flew as a company representative.

While the New Shepard rocket and capsule are only capable of up-and-down sub-orbital flights, Shatner and his crewmates endured the same liftoff accelerations space shuttle astronauts once felt—about three times the normal force of gravity — and even higher “G loads” during descent back into the lower atmosphere.

Even so, Shatner and his crewmates were considered passengers, not astronauts, aboard the automated New Shepard. But professional astronauts nonetheless welcomed them to the brotherhood of space travelers.

I’m impressed. I mean, he’s 90 years old and showing that somebody at his age can actually fly to space,” Matthias Maurer, a European Space Agency astronaut launching to the International Space Station at the end of the month, told CBS News.

“Even if it’s, let’s say, just a sub-orbital flight, I’m highly impressed, and I wish him all the best. Hopefully it will be the experience of a lifetime. And yeah, I hope many more people will follow his steps and also experience space.”

Blue Origin’s 18th New Shepard flight began at 10:49 a.m. (EDT) when the BE-3 engine powering the company’s 53-foot-tall booster ignited with a roar, throttled up to 110,000 pounds of thrust and lifted off from Launch Site One at the company’s West Texas launch site near Van Horn.

Climbing straight up, the booster quickly accelerated as it consumed propellant and lost weight, reaching a velocity of about 2,200 mph and an altitude of some 170,000 feet before engine shutdown.

The New Shepard capsule then separated from the booster at an altitude of about 45 miles and both continued climbing upward on ballistic trajectories, but rapidly slowing.

The onset of weightlessness began shortly after separation. All four passengers were free to unstrap and float about as the capsule reached the top of its trajectory and arced over for the long fall back to Earth. The New Shepard capsule is equipped with some of the largest windows in a currently flying spacecraft, giving Shatner, de Vries, Boshuizen and Powers picture-window views of Earth far below.

Plunging back into the dense lower atmosphere, the passengers, back in their padded, reclining seats, were briefly subjected to more than five times the normal force of gravity before three large parachutes deployed and inflated, slowing the craft to about 15 mph, CBS News reports.

An instant before touchdown, compressed-air thrusters were programmed to fire, slowing the ship to just 2 mph or so for landing.

A few minutes earlier, the New Shepard booster flew itself back to a pinpoint landing a few miles away, reigniting its BE-3 engine, deploying four landing legs and settling to a concrete landing pad. Assuming no problems are found, the rocket will be refurbished and prepared for another flight.

The mission marked the sixth piloted commercial, non-government sub-orbital spaceflight in a high-stakes competition between Bezos’ Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, owned by British billionaire Richard Branson.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Forever young? Jeff Bezos is backing anti-aging startup Altos Labs

September 8, 2021

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is pushing the envelope—on marketing, on suborbital space travel, and now on longevity. He is among a group of investors backing a new anti-aging company, according to a new report obtained by Fox News.

The company, Silicon Valley-based Altos Labs, is working on biological reprogramming technology that is targeted at essentially prolong human life, according to MIT Tech Review.

A Russian-born billionaire tech investor, Yuri Milner, and his wife, Julia, also have invested in the company, according to the report. Milner—who is known for investing in companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and Airbnb—is worth about $4.8 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates.

Altos was incorporated earlier this year in the United States and the United Kingdom; and has plans to create institutes in California, Cambridge, and Japan, according to the report obtained by Fox News.  

It’s also reportedly seeking university scientists with deep pockets dedicated to researching how to reverse the process of aging cells.

Bezos’ investment office, Bezos Expeditions, did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

However, this isn’t the first time the world’s richest man has invested in this kind of research.  The 57-year-old Bezos has also invested in the startup company Unity Biotechnology, the New York Post reported.

Unity, according to its website, is working to develop a “new class of therapeutics to slow, halt, or reverse diseases of aging.”

Representatives for Unity did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Research contact: @FoxNews

What will it cost for tourists to fly on Blue Origin?

July 21, 2021

Jeff Bezos, the richest human in the world, went to space on Tuesday, July 20along with a small group that also comprised the oldest person ever to fly so high and the youngest.  It was a brief jaunt—rising more than 65 miles into the sky above West Texas—in a spacecraft that was built by Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, reports  The New York Times.

“Best day ever,” Mr. Bezos exclaimed once the capsule had settled back into the dust near the launch site following the 11-minute journey.

The other three passengers were Bezos’ brother, Mark; Oliver Daemen, a Dutch student who was Blue Origin’s first paying passenger; and Mary Wallace Funk, a pilot who in the 1960s was among a group of women who passed the same rigorous astronaut selection criteria employed by NASA but who, until Tuesday, never had the chance to board a rocket.

For the first flight, Blue Origin auctioned off one of the seats with the proceeds going to Mr. Bezos’ space-focused nonprofit, Club for the Future. The winning bid was $28 million, an amount that stunned even Blue Origin officials, far higher than they had hoped. Blue Origin announced it will distribute $19 million of that to 19 space-related organizations — $1 million each.

The 7,600 people who participated in the auction provided Blue Origin with a list of prospective paying customers, and the company has started selling tickets for subsequent flights.

Blue Origin has declined to say what the price is or how many people have signed up, but representatives of the company have told the Times that there is strong demand.

“Our early flights are going for a very good price,” Bob Smith, the chief executive of Blue Origin, said during a news conference on Sunday, July 18.

During the auction for the seat on Tuesday’s flight, the company said that auction participants could buy a seat on subsequent flights. It has not publicly stated what it charged those who placed bids, or how many seats have been sold.

Ariane Cornell, director of Astronaut and Orbital Sales at Blue Origin, said that two additional flights are planned for this year. “So we have already built a robust pipeline of customers that are interested,” she said.

Virgin Galactic, the other company offering suborbital flights, has about 600 people who have already bought tickets. The price was originally $200,000 and later raised to $250,000, but Virgin Galactic stopped sales in 2014 after a crash of its first space plane during a test flight. Virgin Galactic officials say they will resume sales later this year, and the price will likely be higher than $250,000.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden Administration probes leak of IRS records on such well-heeled taxpayers as Bezos, Buffet, Musk

June 10, 2021

The Biden Administration announced on July 8 that it is investigating how tax information on several of the world’s richest people—among them, Jeff BezosElon Musk, and Warren Buffett—has been leaked to the public, according to a report by CNN.

“The unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information is illegal,” said Treasury spokesperson Lily Adams. “The matter is being referred to the Office of the Inspector General, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, all of whom have independent authority to investigate.”

The investigation comes after a report that showed new information from a trove of never-before-seen IRS records. Earlier Tuesday, ProPublica reported on exclusively obtained IRS documents which showed how the likes of Bezos, Musk, Buffett, Bill Gates, George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Bloomberg have legally avoided paying income tax.

“Any unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information by a person of access is illegal and we take this very seriously,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during Tuesday’s briefing.

Psaki also reiterated the Biden administration’s stance on having wealthy Americans pay more taxes to fund the President’s proposals.

“I’m not going to comment on specific unauthorized disclosures of confidential government information. I can tell you that, broadly speaking, we know that there is more to be done to ensure that corporations, individuals who are at the highest income are paying more of their fair share. Hence, it’s in the President’s proposals, his budget and part of how he’s proposing to pay for his ideas,” Psaki said.

Research contact: @CNN

James Bond, meet Jeff Bezos: Amazon just bought MGM Studios for $8.45 billion

May 27, 2021

Jeff Bezos has a new pet lion, Fast Company reports.

Amazon has reached a deal to acquire the storied MGM Studios for $8.45 billion—a move that will significantly bulk up its content library and entertainment intellectual property (IP) in the escalating war between premium streaming services, reports Fast Company.

In a joint announcement on Wednesday, May 26, the companies said MGM’s arsenal of more than 4,000 titles—including franchises ranging from James Bond and The Pink Panther to the Rocky and Poltergeist movies—will complement the Seattle e-commerce giant’s existing Amazon Studios, which is largely focused on TV series.

For Amazon, the acquisition is the largest since it scooped up Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in 2017, Fast Company says. It comes as competing firms such as Disney and Netflix are spending more and more each year to keep their streaming services replenished with fresh movies, TV series, and familiar franchises.

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,”

Research contact: @FastCompany

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey chips in 28% of his personal wealth, $1B, to COVID-19 relief fund

April 9, 2020

“I hope this inspires others to do something similar,” Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter and Square, said on Tuesday, April 7, of his plans to donate $1 billion—or just under one-third of his total wealth, to relief programs for the novel coronavirus, The New York Times reported.

Dorsey said he would put 28% of his fortune, in the form of shares in his mobile payments company Square, into a limited liability company that he had created, called Start Small. The new company would make grants to beneficiaries, he said, with the expenditures to be recorded in a publicly accessible Google document.

“Why now? The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime,” Mr. Dorsey said—fittingly enough, in a series of tweets announcing his plans.

“ After we disarm this pandemic,” he tweeted, “the focus will shift to girl’s health and education, and UBI [universal basic income]. It will operate transparently, all flows tracked here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-eGxq2mMoEGwgSpNVL5j2sa6ToojZUZ-Zun8h2oBAR4 …

According to the Times, Dorsey, 43, joins a growing list of celebrities, world leaders, and techies who are earmarking some portion of their wealth to fighting the spread of the coronavirus and its effects.

Oprah Winfrey has donated more than $10 million of her personal wealth to COVID-19 relief efforts, while other Hollywood personalities — including Justin Timberlake, Dolly Parton, and Rihanna — have also made contributions. Last week, the Amazon chief executive, Jeff Bezos, said he would donate $100 million to American food banks through a nonprofit, Feeding America. And Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, also has organized relief campaigns through Facebook and his own philanthropic organization with his wife Priscilla Chan, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Even so, the Times notes, Dorsey’s contribution stands out for the sum he is putting in and for how much of his net worth that represents.

He said the first $100,000 donation would be to America’s Food Fund, a high-profile effort committed to feeding the hungry. It was started in a GoFundMe page last week collectively by Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Apple. To date, $13.4 million has been raised toward the goal of $15 million, contributed by 7,500 donors.

“Life is too short, so let’s do everything we can today to help people now,” Dorsey tweeted, followed by an emoji of a peace sign hand gesture.

Square declined a request for an interview with Dorsey. Twitter declined to comment.

Research contact: @nytimes

Beverly Hills eclipsed by Calabasas as home for rich and famous

March 2, 2020

Katy Perry, Dr. Phil, Jeff Bezos , John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, Eddie Murphy—they all have opulent homes in the 5.7-square-mile area in Los Angeles known as Beverly Hills. Indeed, along with Bel Air, it has been the area where Hollywood stars have “lived large” since the 1920s, Bloomberg reports..

But now, things are changing. Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which begins its 18th season next month on the E! network, has put a spotlight on another part of the Los Angeles metro area—Calabasas, a 13.7-square-mile area on the west side of the city.

This year, for the first time, the community of about 24,300 people has eclipsed Beverly Hills in Bloomberg’s annual ranking of the richest cities nationwide. The average household income in Calabasas is $194,010—more than twice the national average and about $4,000 higher than Beverly Hills, which has 34,600 residents.

Located about 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, Calabasas owes some of its success to the usual reasons: good schools, low crime, and open space. But the Kardashians’ reality TV show has had its own effect, showing that in Calabasas, the rich and famous can live normal lives without having to dodge paparazzi and tour buses every time they leave home.

“You’re not going to get tourists walking around Calabasas. UYou’re going to get the celebrities that live here, going to the gym and going to the supermarket,” Tomer Fridman, a luxury real estate agent who works with the Kardashians told Bloomberg “That’s why they live here — for the privacy.”

In recent decades, Calabasas and its even tonier neighbor to the north, Hidden Hills, have been transformed from sleepy suburbs into celebrity capitals.

The Calabasas Country Club cites the “celebrity factor” as a reason to move there. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West live in Hidden Hills, as does the rapper Drake. Actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith keep a 150-acre Calabasas compound, while Justin Bieber sold his $7.2 million Spanish-style retreat in the city to Khloe Kardashian. Actress Katie Holmes just sold a home there for about $4 million, the Los Angels Times reported this week.

Another reason to look there? Real estate in Calabasas is relatively cheap compared with Beverly Hills. That’s the premium people pay to live in the city, Fridman said. The median home price in Calabasas is $1.19 million, while it’s $2.7 million in Beverly Hills, according to Zillow. What Westchester is to Manhattan, Calabasas is to Beverly Hills, Fridman said.

Although the Kardashians first started taping their show from Hidden Hills, which has about 2,000 residents, the family and some of its members also have lived in Calabasas. The clan called the city home from 2003 to 2005 before moving to a bigger place in Hidden Hills, according to the L.A. Times.  Kylie Jenner, the 22-year-old cosmetics mogul, bought her first house, a $2.7 million starter pad, in Calabasas in 2015.

So, it really depends which “in crowd” you want to be “in” with. After all Jennifer Anniston lives in Bel Air.

Research contact: @business

Under attack, National Enquirer is put up for sale

April 12, 2019

The National Enquirer—the supermarket tabloid that in February allegedly extorted Jeff Bezos about his extramarital activities and, during the 2016 campaign, “exposed” then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s “secret health crisis”—is up for sale, according to an April 10 report by The New York Times.

Owned by American Media and helmed by David Pecker—a longtime pal of Donald Trump’s who used the scandal sheet to run a smear campaign against Clinton during the 2016 elections—the Enquirer is likely to have a buyer in a matter of days, the Times said.

The most likely prospect is rumored to be billionaire investor Ronald W. Burkle, a supermarket magnate with ties to President Bill Clinton, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations. Such a move would turn the political tables on President Trump.

In addition to his offensive strikes against Amazon CEO Bezos (who also owns The Washington Post, one of the president’s “fake media foes”) and Hillary Clinton; Pecker is said to have sealed a deal to buy a story from Karen McDougal—a Playboy model who said she had an affair with the president.

The company acquired McDougal’s story for $150,000 and never published it, following a practice known in the tabloid business as “catch-and-kill.” Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York gave Mr. Pecker an immunity deal during an investigation of the arrangement.

Prosecutors identified the $150,000 payment to McDougal as a political contribution made in violation of campaign finance law, the Times reported. Under a non-prosecution deal, American Media affirmed that it had made the payment to “influence the election.”

That agreement, signed in September, stipulated that American Media “shall commit no crimes whatsoever” for three years, and that if it did, the company “shall thereafter be subject to prosecution for any federal criminal violation of which this office has knowledge.”

The deal has put the company in a difficult position, the Times said—pointing out that federal prosecutors now have have started investigating the blackmail claims by Bezos.

Indeed, the principal owner of American Media, the hedge fund Chatham Asset Management, led by Anthony Melchiorre, pushed Pecker to sell the tabloid after it found itself in the cross hairs of the federal investigation and at the receiving end of Bezos’ wrath.

Melchiorre no longer saw an upside in being associated with The Enquirer, the people familiar with the matter said, and the tabloid’s financial losses provided further motivation for a sale.

Research contact: @nytimes