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Amazon investors sue company for not considering SpaceX as potential launch provider

In a lawsuit filed by Amazon investors, they claim that the company’s decision to give major and expensive launch contracts to Arianespace, ULA, and Blue Origin to put its planned 3,200 Kuiper satellite constellation into orbit but never even consider using SpaceX indicates a failure at due diligence for the shareholders as well as a possible conflict of interest.

The plaintiff’s biggest concern was the decision to give Blue Origin the contract.

The suit, filed by Amazon shareholders the Cleveland Bakers and Teamsters Pension Fund, alleges that the board spent less than 40 minutes approving the launch agreements for Amazon’s Project Kuiper mega-constellation, while not even considering leading launch company (and Blue Origin rival) SpaceX. “Amazon’s directors likely devoted barely an hour before blindly signing off on funneling […] Amazon’s money to Bezos’ unproven, struggling rocket company,” the suit says. The plaintiffs say the board failed to protect the negotiation process “from Bezos’ glaring conflict of interest.”

It appears these investors might have a point, as so far Amazon has paid these launch companies about $1.7 billion, with Blue Origin getting $585 million, though not one satellite has yet launched. Moreover, it appears from all counts that it will be very difficult for these companies — especially Blue Origin — to complete the required missions necessary to get into orbit half of Amazon’s constellation by 2026, as required by its FCC license.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Jay

    Reading the contracts and lawsuit, it was discussed that a fourth launch provider’s name was redacted. Most likely that name was SpaceX.

    All I can say is don’t mess with the Teamsters, or Jeff Bezos will end up like Jimmy Hoffa.

  • Diane Wilson

    If Amazon really wanted to hurt Starlink, they could have bought all 83 launches on SpaceX, not only providing the least expensive launch service, but also ensuring that Kuiper launches would have priority over Starlink launches. SpaceX has always given priority to paying customers, as they did with OneWeb. Starlink gets the launch slots that aren’t taken by paying customers.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Maybe that would have given Musk the opportunity to charge Bezos a non-refundable cash-on-the-barrel deposit of 100%, plus a 100% priority-bump fee, also in cash?

    Just kidding. Maybe.

  • It occurred to me while reading the post that Amazon’s Project Kuiper may just be a money laundering scheme. What gives me that sense are the delays of all three launch providers having an orbital launch capability for Kuiper. Maybe this will get Jeff to get over his ego and actually pay the going rate for Falcon 9 launches. As Diane Wilson pointed out, Kuiper will get launch priority over Starlink. What better way to poke at Elon.

  • James Street

    Primary responsibility of a corporation: maximize profit.

  • Mike Borgelt

    No way would Musk give Kuiper priority over Starlink, his cash cow. He’d likely allocate some paying launches at a stiff premium.
    Make money while shafting Bezos.
    I sure wouldn’t put money into Kuiper. Musk has first mover advantage, already has improved the satellites and when Starship flies, the ability to build out his constellation far faster than Bezos can.
    I think the Amazon investors are going to lose their money on this one.

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