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The following is a conversation with Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon and Blue Origin. This is his first time doing a conversation of this kind and of this length. And as he told me, it felt like we could have easily talked for many more hours, and I'm sure we will. And now, a quick few-second mention of each sponsor, check them out in the description. It's the best way to support this podcast. We got Notion for team collaboration, PolicyGenius for insurance, Masterclass for learning, Asleep for naps, and Insight Tracker for biological data. Choose wise in my friends. Also, if you want to work with our amazing team, where I was hiring, go to Lexfreedman. Com/hiring. And if you want to get in touch with me for other reasons like guest suggestions, you can go to Lexfreedman. Com/contact, like with the aliens. But in this case, it's with me. And now onto the full ad read. There's always no ads in the middle. I try to make these interesting, but if you must skip them, friends, please do check out our sponsors. I enjoy their stuff. Maybe you will, too. This show is brought to you by Notion, a note-taking app that I've been using forever, but it's not just for note-taking, it's also for team collaboration.


It's been doing that forever. But recently, it also has the extra added AI capabilities with the Notion AI tool. Obviously, everybody's trying to figure out how to integrate the progress with LLMs, the continued progress, the accelerating progress, the boundless progress with LLMs into our productive lives. To me, obviously, the note-taking, the putting words onto paper as part of the process of figuring out intellectual puzzles, of thinking through things, designing things, summarizing things, interpreting things, all of that, that's the writing process. Integrating AI into that to help you almost like a buddy is obviously empowering. But there's an interface question on how to do that well. To me, Notion does that better than any tool I've used so far. Notion AI can now give you instant answers to your questions using information from across your wiki, projects, docs, and meeting notes. Try Notion AI for free when you go to Notion. Com/lex. That's all lowercase, Notion. Com/lex to try the power of Notion AI today. This show is also brought to you by PolicyGenius, a marketplace for finding and buying life insurance. Almost every single conversation I have in different ways, I ponder, I explore, I deliberate the simple fact of our mortality, the finiteness of every experience, the human experience, but every experience that makes up the human experience, the good and the bad.


I think bringing that up as a topic is important because it is one of the big questions for the introspecting animal that is a human being, for somebody who's trying to figure out the puzzle of the human condition. Why does it have to end? Is it good that it has to end? How does the fact of it ending play with the richness of the experience of every moment that we feel when we open our eyes to the beauty of that experience? Those are good questions, but they also put you in the right mindset to explore the other questions. The details of engineering, the details of business and science, all of that are somehow made more visceral, more intensely salient. When grounded in the context of pondering one's own mortality. That's why I tried to do it. I guess PolicyGenius wants you to ponder your mortality and do something about it, a pragmatic angle. With PolicyGenius, you can find life insurance policies that started just 292 bucks a year.




$1 million of coverage. Head to policygenius. Com/lex or click the link in the description to get your free life insurance quotes and see how much you could save. That's policygenius. Com/lex. This show is also brought to you by Masterclass. $10 a month gets you an all-access pass to watch courses from the best people in the world in their particular thing. That's how you should learn. You should try to find a way to listen to, to get close to the people that are the best at a thing that you're interested in. That's not the only way to learn. Textbooks, tutorials, lectures, books about a thing are good. But the doers of the thing reveal something not just in their explanations, but in how they construct the explanations, how they think about the words that lead to the formation of the explanations. And all of that becomes salient when you just listen to these masterclasses. It's the doers that now have become teachers, but they were doers first. Anyway, Chris Hatfield, Will Wright, Carlos Santana, Daniel Negrano, Neil Gaiman, Martin Scorsese. I would love to talk to Martin Scorsese in this podcast. There's just a lot of classes to choose from.


The ones I mentioned are the ones I've personally enjoyed, but maybe there's many others. Maybe you can write to me and recommend ones that were really impactful to you. Get unlimited access to every Masterclass and get an additional 15 % off an annual membership at Masterclass. Com/lexpod. That's Masterclass. Com/lexpod. This episode is also brought to you by Eight Sleep. I don't know why I'm speaking like this quietly, because when I mention Eight Sleep, I think about myself napping and the calm peace that overtakes my surrounding environment when I'm napping. On a cold bed with a warm blanket. It's a little sampling of heaven. No matter how I'm feeling, I could be feeling totally shitty about whatever thing. I could be angry, I could be sad. I could be lonely, all of these things, all of the different emotional trajectories that the human mind can take you on somehow get all resolved, the knots get untied, and everything becomes simple again after a good nap. Take the naps seriously, friends. They are the cure for many of life's ills. And if you want to do your naps the way I do my naps the right way, you should use Eight Sleep.


Check it out and get special savings when you go to eightsleep. Com/lex. This show is also brought to you by Inside Tracker, a service I use to track biological data that comes from my body, this complex hierarchical biological machine that provides an infinity of signals, most of which are ignored when we make health, lifestyle, diet, whatever decisions, life decisions. The future is designing systems, machine learning systems that don't ignore those signals, that leverage those signals, combine them, integrate them with the best scientific work of the day to give you advice on what to do with your life. And the Insight Tracker is taking steps towards that bright, to me, bright future. They're using data from your blood, from DNA data, fitness tracker data, all of that to give you lifestyle recommendations. I'm really glad they are pushing this work forward. Get special savings for a limited time when you go to insidetracker. Com/lex. This is the Lex Freement Podcast. Now, dear friends, here's Jeff Bezos. You spent a lot of your childhood with your grandfather on a ranch here in Texas. I heard you had a lot of work to do around the ranch. What's the coolest job you remember doing there?


Wow, coolest.


Most interesting, most memorable.


Most memorable. It's a real working ranch. I spent all my summers on that ranch from age 4-16. My grandfather was really taking me those in the summers. In the early summers, he was letting me pretend to help on the ranch because, of course, a four-year-old is a burden, not a help in real life. He was really just watching me and taking care of me. He was doing that because my mom was so young. She had me when she was 17, and so he was giving her a break. My grandmother and my grandfather would take me for the summers. But as I got a little older, I actually was helpful on the ranch, and I loved it. I was out there. My grandfather had a huge influence on me, huge factor in my life. I did all the jobs you would do on a ranch. I've fixed windmills and laid fences and pipelines and done all the things that any rancher would do, vaccinated the animals, everything. But my grandfather, after my grandmother died, I was about 12, and I kept coming to the ranch. Then it was just him and me, just the two of us.


He was completely addicted to the soap opera, the days of our lives. We would go back to the ranch house every day around 1:00 PM or so to watch days of our lives like sands through an hourglass. So are the days of our lives.


Just the image of that, the two of us sitting there watching soap opera.


He had these big, crazy dogs. It was really a very formative experience to me. But the key thing about it, for me, the great gift I got from it was that my grandfather was so resourceful. He did everything himself. He made his own veterinary tools. He would make needles to suture the cattle up with. He would find a little piece of wire and heat it up and pound it thin and drill a hole in it and sharpen it. You learn different things on a ranch than you would learn growing up in a city.


So self-reliance.


Yeah, figuring out that you can solve problems with enough persistence and ingenuity. My grandfather bought a D6 Bulldozer, which is a big Bulldozer, and he got it for like $5,000 because it was completely broken down. It was a 1955 Caterpillar D6 Bulldozer. Knew it would have cost, I don't know, more than $100,000. We spent an entire summer fixing, repairing that bulldozer. We'd use mail order to buy big gears for the transmission, and they'd show up, they'd be too heavy to move, so we'd have to build a crane. Just that problem-solving mentality, he had it so powerfully. He did all of his own... He didn't pick up the phone and call somebody. He would figure it out on his own. Doing his own veterinary work.


But just the image of the two, you fixing a D6 bulldozer and then going in for a little break at 1:00 PM to-watched.


Soap operas. -watching days for a living. Laying on the floor. That's how he watched TV. He was a really remarkable guy.


That's how I imagine Clint Eastwood also. And all those Westerns, when he's not doing what he's doing, he's just watching soap operas. All right. I read that you fell in love with the idea of space and space exploration when you were five, watching Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. So let me ask you to look back at the historical context and impact of that. So the space race from 1957 to 1969 between the Soviet Union and the US was in many ways epic. It was a rapid sequence of dramatic events. First satellite to space, first human to space, first spacewalk, first occluded landing on the moon, then some failures, explosions, deaths on both sides, actually, and then the first human walking on the moon. What are some of the more inspiring moments or insights you take away from that time, those few years, that just twelve years?


Well, I mean, there's so much inspiring there. One of the great things to take away from that, one of the great von Braun quotes is, I have come to use the word impossible with great caution.




And so that's the big story of Apollo, is that going to the moon was literally an analogy that people used for something that's impossible. Oh, yeah, you'll do that when men walk on the moon. And of course, it finally happened. I think it was pulled forward in time because of the space race. I think with the geopolitical implications and how much resource was put into it, at the peak, that program was spending two or three % of GDP on the Apollo program. So much resource that I think it was pulled forward in time. We did it ahead of when we, quote-unquote, should have done it. And so in that way, it's also a technical marvel. I mean, it's truly incredible. It's the 20th century version of building the pyramids or something. It's an achievement that because it was pulled forward in time and because it did something that had previously thought impossible, it rightly deserves its place as in the pantheon of great human achievements.


Of course, you named the projects the Rockets that Blue Origin is working on after some of the folks involved. I don't understand why I didn't say New Gagarin. Is that-.


There's an American bias in the naming. I apologize. It's very strange. Lex.


I'm just asking for a friend.


I'm a big fan of Gagarin's though. In fact, I think his first words in space, I think, are incredible. He purportedly said, My God, it's blue. That really drives home. No one had seen the Earth from space. No one knew that we were on this blue planet. No one knew what it looked like from out there. Gagarin was the first person to see it.


One of the things I think about is how dangerous those early days were for Gagarin, for Glenn, for everybody involved, like how big of a risk.


They were all taking. They were taking huge risks. I'm not sure what the Soviets thought about Gagarin's flight, but I think that the Americans thought that the Alan Shepard flight, the flight that New Shepherd is named after, the first American in space, he went on his suborbital flight. They thought he had about a 75 % chance of success. So that's a pretty big risk, a 25 % risk.


It's interesting that Alan Shepard is not quite as famous as John Glenn. So for people who don't know, Alan Shepard is the first astronaut.


The first American in space.


American in suborbital flight. Correct. And then the first orbital.


Flight is- John Glenn is the first American to orbit the Earth. By the way, I have the most charming, sweet, incredible letter from John Glenn, which I have framed and hang on my office wall where he tells me how grateful he is that we have named New Glenn after him. And they sent me that letter about a week before he died. And it's really incredible. It's also a very funny letter. He's writing and he says, This is a letter about New Glenn from the original Glenn. And he's got a great sense of humor and he's very happy about it and grateful. It's very sweet.


Does he say, P. S, don't mess this up? Or is that...




He doesn't. Make me look good.


He doesn't do that. Okay. But, John, wherever you are, we got you covered. All right, good.


So back to maybe the big picture of space. When you look up at the stars and think big, what do you hope is the future of humanity? Hundreds, thousands of years from now out in space.


I would love to see a trillion humans living in the solar system. If we had a trillion humans, we would have, at any given time, 1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einstein's, our solar system would be full of life and intelligence and energy. And we can easily support a civilization that large with all of the resources in the solar system.


So what do you think that looks like? Giant space stations?


Yeah. The only way to get to that vision is with giant space stations. The planetary surfaces are just way too small. So you can, I mean, unless you turn them into giant space stations or something. But yeah, we will take materials from the moon and from near-earth objects and from the asteroid belt and so on, and we'll build giant O'Neal style colonies, and people will live in those. And they have a lot of advantages over planetary surfaces. You can spin them to get normal Earth gravity. You can put them where you want them. I think most people are going to want to live near Earth, not necessarily in Earth orbit, but in Earth... But in Earth vicinity orbits. And so they can move relatively quickly back and forth between their station and Earth. I think a lot of people, especially in the early stages, are not going to want to give up Earth altogether.


They go to Earth for vacation?


Yeah. Same way that you might go to Yellowstone National Park for vacation. People will get to choose where they live on Earth or whether they live in space, but they'll be able to use much more energy and much more material resource and space than they would be able to use on Earth.


One of the interesting ideas you had is to move the heavy industry away from Earth. So people sometimes have this idea that somehow space exploration is in conflict with the celebration of the planet Earth, that we should focus on preserving Earth. And basically, your idea is that space travel and space exploration is a way to preserve Earth.


Exactly. This planet, we've sent robotic probes to all the planets. We know that this is the good one.


Not to play.


Favorites or anything, but- The Earth really is the good planet. It's amazing. The ecosystem we have here, all of the life and the lush, the plant life and the water resources, everything. This planet is really extraordinary. And of course, we evolved on this planet, so of course, it's perfect for us, but it's also perfect for all the advanced life forms on this planet, all the animals and so on. And so this is a gem. We do need to take care of it. And as we enter the Anthropocene, as we humans have gotten so sophisticated and large and impactful as we stride across this planet, that is going to... As we continue, we want to use a lot of energy. We want to use a lot of energy per capita. We've gotten amazing things. We don't want to go backwards. If you think about the good old days, there are mostly an illusion. In almost every way, life is better for almost everyone today than it was, say, 50 years ago or 100 years ago. We live better lives by and large, than our grandparents did and their grandparents did, and so on. You can see that in global illiteracy rates, global poverty rates, global infant mortality rates.


Almost any metric you choose, we're better off than we used to be. We get antibiotics and all kinds of life-saving medical care and so on and so on. There's one thing that is moving backwards, and it's the natural world. It is a fact that 500 years ago, pre-industrial age, the natural world was pristine. It was incredible. We have traded some of that pristine beauty for all of these other gifts that we have as an advanced society. We can have both but to do that, we have to go to space. And all of this, really the most fundamental measure is energy usage per capita. And when you look at, you do want to continue to use more and more energy. It is going to make your life better in so many ways, but that's not compatible ultimately with living on a finite planet. And so we have to go out into the solar system. And really, you could argue about when you have to do that, but you can't credibly argue about whether you have to do that.


Eventually, we.


Have to do that. Exactly.


You don't often talk about it, but let me ask you on that topic about the Blue Ring and the orbital reef space infrastructure projects. What's your vision for these?


So Blue Ring is a very interesting spacecraft that is designed to take up to 3,000 kilograms of payload up to geosynchronous orbit or in lunar vicinity. It has two different kinds of propulsion. It has chemical propulsion and it has electric propulsion. And so you can use Blue Ring in a couple of different ways. You can slowly move, let's say, up to geosynchronous orbit using electric propulsion. That might take 100 days or 150 days, depending on how much mass you're carrying, and then reserve your chemical propulsion so that you can change orbits quickly in geosynchronous orbit. Or you can use the chemical propulsion first to quickly get up to geosynchronous and then use your electrical propulsion to slowly change your geosynchronous orbit. Blue Ring has a couple of interesting features. It's at provides a lot of services to these payloads. So the payload could be one large payload or it can be a number of small payloads. And it provides thermal management, it provides electric power, it provides compute, provides communications. And so when you design a payload for Blue Ring, you don't have to figure out all of those things on your own, so radiation-tolerant compute.


Is a complicated thing to do. And so we have an unusually large amount of radiation-tolerant compute on board Blue Ring, and your payload can just use that when it needs to. I'd say all these services. It's like a set of APIs. It's a little bit like Amazon Web Services, but for- For space. -for space payloads that need to move about an Earth vicinity or lunar vicinity.


Awss. Okay, so computing space. So you get a giant chemical rocket to get a payload out to orbit, and then you have these admins that show up, this Blue Ring thing that manages various things.


Like compute. Exactly. And it can also provide transportation and move you around to different orbits.


Including humans.


You think? No, Blue Ring is not designed to move humans around. It's designed to move payloads around. So we're also building a lunar lander, which is, of course, designed to land humans on the surface of.


The moon. I'm going to ask you about that. Let me actually just step back to the old days. You were at Princeton with aspirations to be a theoretical physicist. Yeah. What attracted you to physics? And why did you change your mind and not become... Why you're not, Jeff Bezos, the famous theoretical physicist?


I loved physics, and I said physics and computer science. I was proceeding along the physics path. I was planning to major in physics, and I wanted to be a theoretical physicist. The computer science was something I was doing for fun. I really loved it. I was very good at the programming and doing those things, and I enjoyed all my computer science classes immensely, but I really was determined to be a theoretical physicist. It's why I went to Princeton in the first place. It was definitely. Then I realized I was going to be a mediocre theoretical physicist. There were a few people in my classes, like in quantum mechanics and so on, who they could effortlessly do things that were so difficult for me. I realized there are a thousand ways to be smart and to be a really... Theoretical physics is not one of those fields where only the top few % actually move the state of the art forward. It's one of those things where you have to be really... Your brain has to be wired in a certain way. There was a guy named one of these people who convinced me, he didn't mean to convince me, but just by observing him, he convinced me that I should not try to be a theoretical physicist.


His name was Yosantah. Yosantah was from Sri Lanka, and he was one of the most brilliant people I'd ever met. My friend Joe and I were working on a very difficult partial differential equations problem set one night. There was one problem that we worked on for three hours, and we made no headway whatsoever. We looked up at each other at the same time, and we said, Yosantah. We went to Yosantah's dorm room, and he was there. He was almost always there. We said, Yosantah, we're having trouble solving this partial differential equation. Would you mind taking a look? He said, Of course. By the way, he was the most humble, most kind person. He looked at our problem, and he staring at it for just a few seconds, maybe 10 seconds. He said, Cosine. I said, What do you mean, you assant? What do you mean, Cosine? He said, That's the answer. I said, No, no, no, come on. He said, Let me show you. He took out some paper, and he wrote down three pages of equations. Everything canceled out, and the answer was Cosine. I said, Yosant, did you do that in your head?


He said, No, that would be impossible. A few years ago, I solved a similar problem, and I could map this problem onto that problem. Then it was immediately obvious that the answer was... I had a few. You have an experience like that. You realize maybe being a theoretical physicist isn't what the universe wants you to be. I switched to computer science, and that worked out really well for me. I enjoy it. I still enjoy it today.


Yeah, there's a particular intuition you need to be a great physicist applied.


To physics. I think the mathematical skill required today is so high. You have to be a world-class mathematician to be a successful theoretical physicist today. You probably need other skills too: intuition, lateral thinking, and so on. But without just top notch math skills, you're unlikely to be successful.


And visualization skill, you have to be able to really do these kinds of thought experiments. And if you want to truly great creativity... Actually, Walter Isaacson writes about you. It puts you on the same level as Einstein.


That's very kind. I'm an inventor. If you want to boil down what I am, I'm really an inventor. I look at things and I can come up with atypical solutions, and then I can create 100 such atypical solutions for something. 99 of them may not survive scrutiny, but one of those 100 is like, Maybe there is. Maybe that might work, and then you can keep going from there. That lateral thinking, that inventiveness in a high dimensionality space where the search space is very large, that's where my inventive skills come. That's the thing if I self-identify as an inventor more than anything else.


Yeah, and he describes in all kinds of different ways Walter Isaacson does that creativity combined with childlike wander that you've maintained still to this day, all of that combined together. If you were to study your own brain, introspect, how do you think? What's your thinking process like? We'll talk about the writing process of putting it down on paper, which is quite rigorous and famous at Amazon. But how do you, when you sit down maybe alone, maybe with others and thinking through this high dimensional space and looking for creative solutions, creative paths forward, is there something you could say.


About that process? It's such a good question, and I honestly don't know how it works. If I did, I would try to explain it. I know it involves lots of wandering. So when I sit down to work on a problem, I know I don't know where I'm going. So to go in a straight line... To go in a straight line to be efficient, efficiency and invention are at odds because real invention, not incremental improvement. Incremental improvement is so important in every endeavor and everything you do. You have to work hard on also just making things a little bit better. But I'm talking about real invention, real lateral thinking that requires wandering, and you have to give yourself permission to wander. I think a lot of people, they feel like wandering is inefficient. When I sit down at a meeting, I don't know how long the meeting is going to take if we're trying to solve a problem, because if I did, then I'd already know there's some straight line that we're drawing to the solution. The reality is we may have to wander for a long time. I do like group invention. I think there's really nothing more fun than sitting at a whiteboard with a group of smart people and spitballing and coming up with new ideas and objections to those ideas and then solutions to the objections and going back and forth.


Sometimes you wake up with an idea in the middle of the night, and sometimes you sit down with a group of people and go back and forth. And both things are really pleasurable.


And when you wander, I think one key thing is to notice a good idea and maybe to notice the kernel of a good idea, maybe pull at that string. Because I don't think good ideas come fully formed.


100 % right. In fact, when I come up with what I think is a good idea, and it survives the first level of scrutiny that I do in my own head, and I'm ready to tell somebody else about the idea, I will often say, Look, it is going to be really easy for you to find objections to this idea, but work with me.


There's something there.


There's something there. And that is intuition because it's really easy to kill new ideas in the beginning because they do have so many easy objections to them. You need to for warn people and say, Look, I know it's going to take a lot of work to get this to a fully formed idea. Let's get started on that. It'll be fun.


You got that ability to say cosine in you somewhere, after all. Maybe not on math.


In a different domain. There are a thousand ways to be smart, by the way. That is a really... When I go around and I meet people, I'm always looking for the way that they're smart. That's one of the things that makes the world so interesting and fun. It's not like IQ is a single dimension. There are people who are smart in such unique ways.


Yeah, you just gave me a good response to when somebody calls me an idiot on the internet. There's a thousand ways to be smart, sir.


Well, they might tell you, Yeah, but there are a million ways to be dumb. Yeah, right.


I feel like that's a Mark Twain quote. Okay. All right, you gave me an amazing tour of Blue Origin, Rocket Factory, and Launch Complex and the historic Cape Canaveral. That's where New Glenn, the big rocket we talked about, is being built and will launch. Can you explain what the New Glenn rocket is? And tell me some interesting technical aspects of how.


It works. Sure. New Glenn is a very large, heavy lift launch vehicle. It'll take about 45 metric tons to Leo, a very large class. It's about half the thrust, a little more than half the thrust of the Saturn V rocket. So it's about 3.9 million pounds of thrust on liftoff. The booster has seven BE4 engines. Each engine generates a little more than 550,000 pounds of thrust. The engines are fueled by liquid, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, LNG, as the fuel and locks as the oxidizer. The cycle is an ox-riched stage combustion cycle. It's a cycle that was really pioneered by the Russians. It's a very good cycle. That engine is also going to power the first stage of the Vulkan rocket, which is the United Launch Alliance rocket. Then the second stage of New Glenn is powered by two BE-3U engines, which is a upper stage variant of our new Shepherd liquid hydrogen engine. The BE-3U has 160,000 pounds of thrust, so two of those, 320,000 pounds of thrust. And hydrogen is a very good propellant for upper stages because it has very high ISP. It's not a great propellant, as my view, for booster stages, because the stages then get physically so large.


Hydrogen has very high ISP, but liquid hydrogen is not dense at all. So to store liquid hydrogen, if you need to store many thousands of pounds of liquid hydrogen, your tanks, your liquid hydrogen tank, it's very large. So you get more benefit from the higher ISP, the specific impulse. You get more benefit from the higher specific impulse on the second stage. And that stage carries less propellant, so you don't get such geometrically gigantic tanks. The Delta 4 is an example of a vehicle that is all hydrogen. The booster stage is also hydrogen. I think that it's a very effective vehicle, but it never was very cost effective. It's operationally very capable, but not very cost effective.


So size is also costly.


Size is costly. It's interesting. Rockets love to be big. Everything works better.


What do you mean by that? You've told me that before. It sounds epic, but what's the point?


I mean, when you look at the physics of rocket engines, and also when you look at parasitic mass, let's say you have an avionics system, so you have a guidance and control system, that is going to be about the same mass and size for a giant rocket as it is going to be for a tiny rocket. And so that's just parasitic mass that is very consequential if you're building a very small rocket, but is trivial if you're building a very large rocket. So you have the parasitic mass thing. And then if you look at, for example, rocket engines have turbo pumps. They have to pressurize the fuel and the oxidizer up to a very high pressure level in order to inject it into the thrust chamber where it burns. And those pumps, all rotating machines, in fact, get more efficient as they get larger. So really tiny turbo pumps are very challenging to manufacture. And any gaps are between the housing, for example, and the rotating impeller that pressurizes the fuel, there has to be some gap there. You can't have those parts scraping against one another. And those gaps drive inefficiencies. And so if you have a very large turbo pump, those gaps and percentage terms end up being very small.


And so there's a bunch of things that you end up loving about having a large rocket and that you end up hating for a small rocket. But there's a giant exception to this rule, and it is manufacturing. Manufacturing large structures is very, very challenging. It's a pain in the butt. It's just... If you're making a small rocket engine, you can move all the pieces by hand. You could assemble it on a table, one person can do it. You don't need cranes and heavy lift operations and tooling and so on and so on. When you start building big objects, infrastructure, civil infrastructure, just like the launch pad and all this, we went and visited and took you to the launch pad, and you can see it's so monumental. Yeah, it is. Just these things become major undertakings, both from an engineering point of view, but also from a construction and cost point.


Of view. And even the foundation of the launch pad. I mean, this is Florida. Isn't it like Swampland? Like, how.


Deep you have to go? You have to... At Cape Canaveral, in fact, in most launch pads are on beaches somewhere at the ocean because you want to launch over water for safety reasons. Yes, you have to drive pilings, dozens and dozens and dozens of pilings, 50, 100, 150 feet deep to get enough structural integrity for these very large... Yes, these turned into major civil engineering projects.


I just have to say everything about that factory is pretty badass. He says tooling, the bigger it gets, the more epic it is.


It does make it epic. It's fun to look at.


It's extraordinary. It's humbling also because the humans are so small.


Compared to it. We are building these enormous machines that are harnessing enormous amounts of chemical power in very, very compact packages. It's truly extraordinary.


But then there's all the different components and the materials involved. Is there something interesting that you can describe about the materials that comprise the rocket? So it has to be as light as possible, I guess, whilst withstanding the heat and with the harsh conditions.


Yeah, I play a little game sometimes with other rocket people that I run into where I say, What are the things that would amaze the 1960s engineers? What's the change? Because, surprisingly, some of Rocketree's greatest hits have not changed. They are still... They would recognize immediately a lot of what we do today, and it's exactly what they pioneered back in the '60s. But a few things have changed. That the use of carbon composites is very different today. We can build very sophisticated. You saw our carbon tape laying machine that builds the giant fairings. We can build these incredibly light, very stiff, faring structures out of carbon composite material that they could not have dreamed of. I mean, the efficiency, the structural efficiency of that material is so high compared to any metallic material you might use or anything else. So that's one. Aluminum, lithium, and the ability to friction-stir-weld aluminum, lithium. Do you remember the friction-stir-wilding that I showed you? This is a remarkable technology. This was invented decades ago, but has become very practical over the just the last couple of decades. And instead of using heat to weld two pieces of metal together, it literally stirs the two pieces.


There's a pin that rotates at a certain rate, and you put that pin between the two plates of metal that you want to weld together, and then you move it at a very precise speed. And instead of heating the material, it heats it a little bit because of friction, but not very much. You can literally, immediately after welding with stir friction welding, you can touch the material, and it's just barely warm. It literally stirs the molecules together. It's quite extraordinary.


Relatively low temperature, and I guess high temperature is what makes them that makes it a weak point.


Exactly. So with traditional welding techniques, you may have whatever the underlying strength characteristics of the material are, you end up with weak regions where you weld. And with friction stir welding, the welds are just as strong as the bulk material. So it really allows you, because let's say you're building a tank that you're going to pressurize a large liquid natural gas tank for our booster stage, for example. If you are welding that with traditional methods, you have to size those weld lands, the thickness of those pieces with that knockdown for whatever damage you're doing with the weld, and that's going to add a lot of weight to that tank.


I mean, even just looking at the farings, the result of that, the complex shape that it takes, and Yeah.


And what it's supposed to do is incredible because people don't know it's on top of the rocket, it's going to fall apart. That's its task. But he has to stay strong sometimes and then disappear when he needs to. That's right. It's a very difficult task.


Yes. When you need something that needs to have 100 % integrity until it needs to have zero % integrity, it needs to stay attached until it's ready to go away. And then when it goes away, it has to go away completely. You use explosive charges for that. And so it's a very robust way of separating structure when you need to.




Yeah. Little tiny bits of explosive material, and it'll sever the whole connection.


So if you want to go from 100 % structural integrity to zero as fast as possible.


It's explosive. It's explosive.


The entirety of this is so badass. Okay, so we're back to the two stages. So the first stage is reusable.


Yeah. Second stage is expendable. Second stage is liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen, so we get to take advantage of the higher specific impulse. The first stage lands down range on a landing platform in the ocean, comes back for maintenance and get ready to do the next mission.


There's a million questions, but also, is there a path towards reusability for the second stage?


There is, and we know how to do that. Right now, we're going to work on manufacturing that second stage to make it as inexpensive as possible. Two paths for a second stage: make it reusable or work really hard to make it inexpensive so you can afford to expend it. That trade is actually not obvious which one is better.


Even in terms of cost, like time.


Cost, all this- Even in terms of cost. I'm talking about cost. Space flight getting into orbit is a solved problem. We solved it back in the 50s and 60s. We're making it sound easy. The only interesting problem is dramatically reducing the cost of access to orbit, which is if you can do that, you open up a bunch of new endeavors that lots of startup companies or everybody else can do. We really... One of our missions is to be part of this industry and lower the cost to orbit so that there can be a renaissance, a golden age of people doing all kinds of interesting things in space.


I like how you said getting to orbit is a solved problem. It's just the only interesting thing is reducing the cost. You know, you can describe every single problem facing human civilization that way. The physicists will say, Everything is a solved problem. We've solved everything. The rest is just, as Rutherford said that it's just stamp collecting. It's just the details. Some of the greatest innovations and inventions and brilliance is in that cost reduction stage, right? And you've had a long career of cost reduction.


For sure. What does cost reduction really mean? It means inventing a better way. Yeah, exactly. Right? And when you invent a better way, you make the whole world richer. So whatever it was, I don't know how many thousands of years ago, somebody invented the plow. And when they invented the plow, they made the whole world richer because they made farming less expensive. And so it is a big deal to invent better ways. That's how the world gets richer.


So what are some of the biggest challenges on the manufacturing side, on the engineering side that you're facing in working to get to the first launch of New Glenn?


The first launch is one thing, and we'll do that in 2024 coming up in this coming year. The real thing that's the bigger challenge is making sure that our factory is efficiently manufacturing at rate. So rate production. So consider if you want to launch New Glenn 24 times a year. You need to manufacture a upper stage since they're expendable. Twice a month you need to do it every two weeks. You need to have all of your manufacturing facilities and processes and inspection techniques and acceptance tests and everything operating at rate. And rate manufacturing is at least as difficult as designing the vehicle in the first place. And the same thing. So every upper stage has two BE 3U engines. Those engines, if you're going to launch the vehicle twice a month, you need four engines a month. You need an engine every week. That engine needs to be being produced at rate. There's all of the things that you need to do that: all the right machine tools, all the right fixtures, the right people, process, etc. It's one thing to build a first article, right? To launch New Glenn for the first time, you need to produce a first article.


But that's not the hard part. The hard part is everything that's going on behind the scenes to build a factory that can produce New Glens at rate.


So the first one is produced in a way that enables the production of the second and the third and the fourth and the fifth.


And the sixth and so on. You could think of the first article as it pushes all of the rate manufacturing technology along. In other words, it's the test article, in a way, that's testing out your manufacturing technologies.


Manufacturing is the big challenge.


Yes. I don't want to make it sound like any of it is easy. The people who are designing the engines and all of this, all of it is hard for sure. But the challenge right now is driving really hard to get tois to get to rate manufacturing and to do that in an efficient way. Again, back to our cost point. If you get to rate manufacturing in an inefficient way, you haven't really solved the cost problem, and maybe you haven't really moved the state of the art forward. All this has to be about moving the state of the art forward. There are easier businesses to do. I always tell people, look, if you are trying to make money, start a salty snack food company or something.


Let me write that idea down.


Make the Lex Friedmann potato chips.


Okay, don't say it because people are going to steal it.


But yeah, it's hard. You see what I'm saying? It's like there's nothing easy about this business, but it's its own reward. It's fascinating, it's worthwhile, it's meaningful. And so I don't want to pick on salty snack food companies, but I think it's less meaningful. At the end of the day, you're not going to... You're not going to have accomplished something amazing, even if you do make a lot of money on it.


Yeah, there's something fundamentally different about the business of space exploration. Yeah, for sure. It's a grand project of humanity.


Yes, it's one of humanity's grand challenges. And especially as you look at going to the moon and going to Mars and building giant O'Neal colonies and unlocking all the things, I won't live long enough to see the fruits of this. But the fruits of this come from building a road to space, getting the infrastructure. I'll give you an analogy. When I started Amazon, I didn't have to develop a payment system. It already existed. It was called the credit card. I didn't have to develop a transportation system to deliver the packages. It already existed. It was called the Postal Service and Royal Mail and Deutsche Post and so on. All this heavy lifting infrastructure was already in place, and I could stand on its shoulders. That's why when you look at the internet... By the way, another giant piece of infrastructure that was around in the early, I'm taking you back to 1994, people were using dial-up modems, and it was piggybacking on top of the long-distance phone network. That's how people were accessing servers and so on. And again, if that hadn't existed, it would have been hundreds of billions of capex to put that out there.


No startup company could have done that. And so the problem, you see, if you look at the dynamism in the internet space over the last 20 years, it's because you see like two kids in a dorm room could start an internet company that could be successful and do amazing things because they didn't have to build heavy infrastructure. It was already there. That's what I want to do. I take my Amazon winnings and use that to build heavy infrastructure. With the next generation, the generation that's my children and their children, those generations can then use that heavy infrastructure. Then there'll be space entrepreneurs who start in their dorm room. That will be a marker of success. When you can have a really valuable space company started in a dorm room, then we know that we've built enough infrastructure so that ingenuity and imagination can really be unleashed. I find that very exciting.


They will, of course, as kids do, take all of this hard infrastructure ability for granted. Of course. Which is the entrepreneurial spirit.


That's an inventor's greatest dream, is that their inventions are so successful that they are one day taken for granted. Nobody thinks of Amazon as an invention anymore. Nobody thinks of customer reviews as an event. We pioneered customer reviews, but now they're so commonplace. Same thing with one-click shopping and so on. But that's a compliment. You invent something that's so used, so beneficially used by so many people that they take it for granted.


I don't know about nobody. Every time I use Amazon, I'm still amazed. How does this work?


The logistics? Well, that proves you're a very curious explorer.


All right, all right. Back to rockets. Timeline. You said 2024. As it stands now, are both the first test launch and the launch of the Escapade Explorers tomorrow is still possible.


In 2024? In 2024? Yeah. Yeah, I think so. For sure the first launch, and then we'll see if Escapade goes on that or not. I think that the first launch for sure, and I hope Escapade too.




Well, I just don't know which mission it's actually going to be slated on. We also have other things that might go on that first mission.


Oh, I got it. But you're optimistic that the launches.


Will still- Oh, the first launch? I'm very optimistic that the first launch of New Glenn will be in 2024. I'm just not 100 % certain what payload will be on that first launch.


Are you nervous about it?


Are you kidding? I'm extremely nervous about it. Oh, man. 100 %. Every launch I go to for New Shepherd, for other vehicles, too, I'm always nervous for these launches. But yes, for sure, a first launch to have no nervousness about that would be some sign of derangement, I think.


Well, I got to visit the launch pad. It's pretty epic.


We have done a tremendous amount of ground testing, a tremendous amount of simulation. So a lot of the problems that we might find in flight have been resolved. But there are some problems you can only find in flight. So cross your fingers. I guarantee you you'll have fun watching it no matter.


What happens. 100 %. When the thing is fully assembled and.


Comes up- Yeah, the transport or erector. Just the transport or erector for a rocket of this scale is extraordinary.


That's an incredible machine.


The vehicle travels out horizontally and then comes up and- Over a few hours? Yeah, it's a beautiful thing to watch.


Speaking of which, if that makes you nervous, I don't know if you remember, but you were aboard New Shepherd on its first crewed flight. How was that experience? Were you terrified then?


Strangely, I wasn't. You ride.




Rocket. Less than the wrecking. It's true. I've watched other people ride the rocket, and I'm more nervous than when I was inside the rocket myself. It was a difficult conversation to have with my mother when I told her I was going to go on the first one. And not only was I going to go, but I was going to bring my brother too. This is a tough conversation to have with a mom.


There's a long pause.


She's like, Both of you? It was an incredible experience. We were laughing inside the capsule, and we're not nervous. The people on the ground were very nervous for us. It was actually one of the most emotionally powerful parts of the experience was not... It happened even before the flight at 4:30 in the morning, brother and I are getting ready to go to the launch site, and Lauren is going to take us there in her helicopter, and we're getting ready to leave. We go outside the ranch house there in West Texas, where the launch facility is. And all of our family, my kids and my brother's kids and our parents and close friends are assembled there and they're saying goodbye to us, but they're saying maybe they think they're saying goodbye to us forever. And we might not have felt that way, but it was obvious from their faces how nervous they were that they felt that way. And it was powerful because it allowed us to see. It was almost like attending your own memorial service or something like you could feel how loved you were in that moment. And it was really amazing.


Yeah. And I mean, there's just epic nature to it, too.


The ascent, the floating in zero gravity. I'll tell you something very interesting. Zero gravity feels very natural. I don't know if it's because it's like a return to the womb or what.


It is. He just confirmed you're an alien, but that's what I think. I think that's what you.


Just said. It feels so natural to be in zero. It was really interesting. Then what people talk about the overview effect and seeing Earth from space, I had that feeling very powerfully. I think everyone did. You see how fragile the Earth is. If you're not an environmentalist, it will make you one. The great Jim Lovell quote, He looked back at the Earth from space, and he said he realized, You don't go to heaven when you die. You go to heaven when you're born. ' And that's the feeling that people get when they're in space. You see all this blackness, all this nothingness, and there's one gym of life, and it's Earth.


It is a gem. You've talked a lot about decision making throughout your time with Amazon. What was that decision like to be the first to ride in your Shepherd? Before you talk to your mom, what were the pros and cons? Actually, as one human being, as a leader of a company on all fronts, what was that decision making like?


I decided that, first of all, I knew the vehicle extremely well. I know the team who built it. I know the vehicle. I'm very comfortable with the escape system. We put as much effort into the escape system on that vehicle as we put into all the rest of the vehicle combined. It's one of the hardest pieces of engineering in the entire New Shepherd architecture.


Can you actually describe what do you mean by escape system.


And what's involved? We have a solid rocket motor in the base of the crew capsule, so that if anything goes wrong on ascent, while the main rocket engine is firing, we can ignite this solid rocket motor in the base of the crew capsule and escape from the booster. It's a very challenging system to build, design, validate, test, all of these things. It is the reason that I am comfortable letting anyone go on New Shepherd. The booster is as safe and reliable as we can make it. But we are harnessing whenever you're talking about rocket engines, I don't care what you're talking about, you are harnessing such vast power in such a small, compact, geometric space. The power density is so enormous that it is impossible to ever be sure that nothing will go wrong. And so the only way to improve safety is to have an escape system. And historically, human-rated rockets have had escape systems. Only the space shuttle did not. But Apollo had one, the all of the previous, Gemini, etc, they all had escape systems. And we have on New Shepherd unusual escape systems. Most escape systems are towers. We have a pusher escape system.


So the solid rocket motor is actually embedded in the base of the crew capsule, and it pushes. And it's reusable in the sense that if we don't use it, so if we have a nominal mission, we land with it. The tower systems have to be ejected at a certain point in the mission, and so they get wasted even in a nominal mission. Again, cost really matters on these things. So we figured out how to have the escape system be a reusable. In the event that it's not used, you can reuse it and have it be a pusher system. It's a very sophisticated thing. I knew these things. You asked me about my decision to go. I know the vehicle very well. I know the people who designed it. I have great trust in them and in the engineering that we did. I thought to myself, Look, if I am not ready to go, then I wouldn't want anyone to go. A tourism vehicle has to be designed, in my view, to be as safe as one can make it. You can't make it perfectly safe. It's impossible. But people will do things. People take risk.


They climb mountains, they skydive, they do deep underwater scuba diving and so on. People are okay taking risk. You can't eliminate the risk, but it is something because it's a tourism vehicle, you have to do your utmost to eliminate those risks. And I felt very good about the system. I think it's one of the reasons I was so calm inside. And maybe others were just calm. They didn't know as much about it as I did.


Who was in charge of engaging the escape system?


Did you have-It's automated.




The escape system is completely automated. I was visualizing the flight. Automated is better because it can react so much faster.


So, yeah, for tourism, rockets, safety is a huge priority for space exploration also, but a little bit that time, a Delta-less.


Yes. I think if you're doing... There are human activities where we tolerate more risk. If you're saving somebody's life, if you are engaging in real exploration, these are things where I personally think we would accept more risk, in part because you have to.


Is there a part of you that's frustrated by the rate of progress in Blue Origin?


Blue Origin needs to be much faster. It's one of the reasons that I left my role as the CEO of Amazon a couple of years ago. I wanted to come in and Blue Origin needs me right now. I had always, when I was the CEO of Amazon, my point of view on this is, if I'm the CEO of a publicly traded company, it's going to get my full attention. And I really... Just how I think about things, it was very important to me. I felt I had an obligation to all the stakeholders to the Amazon to do that. Having turned the CEO, I was still the executive chair there, but I turned the CEO role over. And the reason... The primary reason I did that is that I could spend time of lords and adding some energy, some sense of urgency. We need to move much faster, and we're going to.


What are the ways to speed it up? You've talked a lot of different ways to an Amazon removing barriers for progress, distributing, making everybody autonomous and self-reliant, all those kinds of things. Is that apply at Blue Origin?


It does apply, and I'm leading this directly. We are going to become the world's most decisive company across any industry. And so at Amazon, ever since the beginning, I said we're going to become the world's most customer-obsessed company. And no matter the industry, like people, one day people are going to come to Amazon from the healthcare industry and want to know, how are you so customer-obsessed? How do you not just pay lip service to that, but actually do that? And from all different industries should come want to study us to see how we accomplish that. And the analogous thing at Blue Origin, and what will help us move faster is we're going to become the world's most decisive company. We're going to get really good at taking appropriate technology risk and making those decisions quickly, being bold on those things, and having the right culture that supports that, you need people to be ambitious, technically ambitious. If there are five ways to do something, we'll study them, but let's study them very quickly and make a decision. We can always change our mind. Changing your mind, I talk about one-way doors and two-way doors, most decisions are two-way doors.


Can you explain that? Because I love that metaphor.


If you make the wrong decision, if it's a two-way door decision, you walk out the door, you pick a door, you walk out, you spend a little time there, it turns out to be the wrong decision. You can come back in and pick another door. Some decisions are so consequential and so important and so hard to reverse that they really are one-way door decisions. You go in that door, you're not coming back. Those decisions have to be made very deliberately, very carefully. If you can think of yet another way to analyze the decision, you should slow down and do that. When I was CEO of Amazon, I often found myself in the position of being the chief slowdown officer because somebody would be bringing me a one-way door decision. I would say, Okay, I can think of three more ways to analyze that, so let's go do that. Because we are not going to be able to reverse this one easily. Maybe you can reverse if it's going to be very costly and very time-consuming. We really have to get this one right from the beginning. And what happens, unfortunately, in companies, what can happen is that you have a one size fits all decision making process where you end up using the heavyweight process on all decisions, including the lightweight ones, the two-way door decisions.


Two-way door decisions should mostly be made by single individuals or by very small teams deep in the organization. And one-way door decisions are the ones that are the irreversible ones. Those are the ones that should be elevated up to the senior most executives who should slow them down and make sure that the right thing is being done.


Yeah. I mean, part of the skill here is to know the difference in one way and two way. I think you mentioned- Yes. I think you mentioned Amazon Prime, the decision to create Amazon Prime as a one-way door. I mean, it's unclear if it is or not, but it probably is, and it's a really big risk to go there.


There are a bunch of decisions like that that are changing the decision is going to be very, very complicated. Some of them are technical decisions, too, because some technical decisions are like quick-drying cement. Once you make them, it gets really hard. I mean, choosing which propellants to use in a vehicle, selecting LNG for the booster stage and selecting hydrogen for the upper stage, that has turned out to be a very good decision. But if you changed your mind, that would be a very big setback. Do you see what I was saying? Yeah. So that's the decision you scrutinize very, very carefully. Other things just aren't like that. Most decisions are not that way. Most decisions should be made by single individuals, but they need and done quickly in the full understanding that you can always change your mind.


Yeah. One of the things I really liked, perhaps it's not a two-way door decision, is I disagree and commit phrase. So somebody brings up an idea to you if the two-way door, you state that you don't understand enough to agree, but you still back them. I'd love for you to explain that.


I'm going to start using that. Yeah, disagree and commit is a really important principle that saves a lot of arguing. Yeah.


I'm going to use that in my personal life. I disagree.


But commit. It's very common in any endeavor in life, in business, and anybody where you have teammates, you have a teammate and the two of you disagree.




Some point, you have to make a decision. And in companies, we tend to organize hierarchically. Whoever is the more senior person ultimately gets to make the decision. Ultimately, the CEO gets to make that decision. The CEO may not always make the decision that they agree with. I would often be the one who would disagree and commit. One of my direct reports would very much want to do something in a particular way. I would think it was a bad idea. I would explain my point of view. They would say, Jeff, I think you're wrong and here's why. And we would go back and forth. I would often say, You know what? I don't think you're right, but I'm going to gamble with you. You're closer to the ground truth than I am. I had known you for 20 years. You have great judgment. I don't know that I'm right either. Not really, not for sure. All these decisions are complicated. Let's do it your way. But at least then you've made a decision, and I'm agreeing to commit to that decision. I'm not going to be second-guessing it. I'm not going to be snip at it.


I'm not going to be saying, I told you so. I'm going to try actively to help make sure it works. That's a really important teammate behavior. There are so many ways that dispute resolution is a really interesting thing on teams. There are so many ways when two people disagree about something, even the... I'm assuming the case where everybody is well intentioned. They just have a very different opinion about what the right decision is. We have in our society and inside companies, we have a bunch of mechanisms that we use to resolve these kinds of disputes. A lot of them are, I think, really bad. An example of a really bad way of coming to agreement is compromise. Compromise. We're in a room here, and I could say, Lex, how tall do you think this ceiling is? And you'd be like, I don't know, Jeff, maybe 12 feet tall. And I would say, I think it's 11 feet tall. And then we'd say, You know what? Let's just call it 11 and a half feet. That's compromised. Instead of the right thing to do is to get a tape measure or figure out some way of actually measuring, but think getting that tape measure and figure out how to get it to the top of the ceiling and all these things, that requires energy.


The advantage of compromise as a resolution mechanism is that it's low energy, but it doesn't lead to truth. And so in things like the height of the ceiling where truth is a knowable thing, you shouldn't allow compromise to be used when you can know the truth. Another really bad resolution mechanism that happens all the time is just who's more stubborn. This is also, so you have—let's say, two executives who disagree, and they just have a war of attrition in which everyone gets exhausted first, capitulates to the other one. Again, you haven't arrived at truth, and this is very demoralizing. So this is where escalation... I try to ask people who on my team, say, never get to a point where you are resolving something by who gets exhausted first. Escalate that. I'll help you make the decision. Because that's so energizing and such a terrible, lousy way to make a decision.


Do you want to get to the resolution as quickly as possible? Because that ultimately leads to a high.


Velocity of this? Yes, and you want to try to get as close to truth as possible. Exhausting the other person is not truth-seeking, and compromise is not truth-seeking. There are a lot of cases where no one knows the real truth, and that's where disagree and commit can come in. But escalation is better than war of attrition. Escalate to your boss and say, Hey, we can't agree on this. We like each other. We're respectful of each other, but we strongly disagree with each other. We need you to make a decision here so we can move forward. But decisiveness, moving forward quickly on decisions as quickly as you responsibly can is how you increase velocity. Most of what slows things down is taking too long to make decisions at all scale levels. So it has to be part of the culture to get high velocity. Amazon has a million and a half people, and the company is still fast. We're still decisive. We're still quick. And that's because the culture supports that.


At every scale in a distributed way to try to maximize the velocity of decisions.




You've mentioned the Lunar program. Let me ask you about that. Yeah. There's a lot going on there, and you haven't really talked about it much. So in addition to the Artemis program with NASA, Blue is doing its own Lander program. Can you describe it? There's a sexy picture on Instagram with one of them. Is it the MK 1? I guess.


Yeah, the mark one. The picture here is me with Bill Nelson, the NASA administrator.


Just to clarify, the Lander is the sexy thing about the Instagram.


I know it's not me. I know it was either the Lander or Bill. Okay.


I love Bill, but- Thank you for clarifying.


-i know it's not me. I know it's either the Lander or Bill. Okay. I love Bill, but yeah. Thank you for clarifying. Yes, the mark one Lander is designed to take 3,000 kilograms to the surface of the moon in a cargo, expendable cargo. It's an expendable Lander, lands on the moon, stays there, take 3,000 kilograms to the surface. It can be launched on a single New Glenn flight, which is very important. So it's a relatively simple architecture, just like the human landing system Lander, they call the mark two. Mark one is also fueled with liquid hydrogen, which is for high energy missions like landing on the surface of the moon, the high specific impulse of hydrogen is a very big advantage. The disadvantage of hydrogen has always been that it's such a deep cryogen, it's not storable. So it's constantly boiling off and you're losing propellant because it's boiling off. And so what we're doing as part of our lunar program is developing solar-powered cryo coolers that can actually make hydrogen a storable propeller for deep space. And that's a real game-changer. It's a game-changer for any high-energy mission. So to the moon, but to the outer planets, to Mars, everywhere.


So the idea with both mark one and mark two is the new Glenn can carry it from the surface of Earth to the surface of.


The moon. Exactly. So the mark one is expendable. The Lunar Lander we're developing for NASA, the mark two Lander, that's part of the... They call it the Sustaining Lander program. So that Lander is designed to be reusable. It can land on the surface moon in a single-stage configuration and then take off. If you look at the Apollo program, the Lunar Lander and Apollo was really two stages. It would land on the surface, and then it would leave the descent stage on the surface of the moon, and only the ascent stage would go back up into lunar orbit, where it would Rendezvous with the command module. Here what we're doing is we have a single-stage Lunar Lander that carries down enough propellant so that it can bring the whole thing back up so that it can be reused over and over. And the point of doing that, of course, is to reduce cost so that you can make lunar missions more affordable over time, which is that's one of the last to speak objectives, because this time the whole point of Artemis is go back to the moon, but this time to stay. So back in the Apollo program, we went to the moon six times and then ended the program, and it really was too expensive to continue.


There's a few questions there, but one is, how do you stay on the moon? What ideas do you have about a sustaining life where a few folks can stay there for prolonged periods of time?


Well, one of the things we're working on is using lunar resources like Lunar Regolith to manufacture commodities and even solar cells on the surface of the moon. We've already built a solar cell that is completely made from Lunar Regolith, Simulent. And this solar cell is only about seven % power-efficient, so it's very inefficient compared to the more advanced solar cells that we make here on Earth. But if you can figure out how to make a practical solar cell factory that you can land on the surface of the moon, and then the raw material for those solar cells is simply lunar regolith. Then you can just continue to churn out solar cells on the surface of the moon, have lots of power on the surface of the moon. That will make it easier for people to live on the moon. Similarly, we're working on extracting oxygen from lunar regolith. So lunar regolith by weight has a lot of oxygen in it. It's bound very tightly as oxides with other elements. You have to separate the oxygen, which is very energy intensive. That also could work together with the solar cells. And then ultimately, we may be able to find practical quantities of ice in the permanently shadowed craters on the poles of the moon.


And we know there is ice water or water ice in those craters, and we know that we can break that down with electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen. Then you'd not only have oxygen, but you'd also have a very good high-efficiency, propellant fuel in hydrogen. There's a lot we can do to make the moon more sustainable over time. But the very first step, the gate that all of that has to go through is we need to be able to land cargo and humans on the surface of the moon at an acceptable cost.


To fast forward a little bit, is there any chance Jeff Bezos steps foot on the moon and on Mars? One or the other or both?


It's very unlikely. I think it's probably something that gets done by future generations by the time it gets to me. I think in my lifetime, that's probably going to be done by professional astronauts. Sadly, I would love to sign up for that mission. So don't count me out yet, Lex. Give me a fighting shot here. Maybe. But I think if we are placing reasonable bets on such a thing in my lifetime, that will continue to be done by professional astronauts.


Yeah. So these are risky, difficult missions.


And probably missions that require a lot of training. You are going there for a very specific purpose to do something. We're going to be able to do a lot on the moon, too, with automation. So in terms of setting up these factories and doing all that, we are sophisticated enough enough now with automation that we probably don't need humans to tend those factories and machines. So there's a lot that's going to be done in both modes.


So I have to ask the bigger picture question about the two companies pushing humanity forward out towards the stars, Blue Origin and SpaceX. Are you competitors, collaborators? Which and to what degree?


Well, I would say just like the internet is big and there are lots of winners at all skill levels. I mean, there are half a dozen giant companies the internet has made, but they're a bunch of medium-sized companies and a bunch of small companies, all successful, all with profit streams, all driving great customer experiences. That's what we want to see in space, that dynamism. And space is big. There's room for a bunch of winners, and it's going to happen at all skill levels. And so SpaceX is going to be successful for sure. I want Blue Origin to be successful. And I hope there are another five companies right behind us.


But I spoke to Elon a few times recently about you, about Blue Origin, and he was very positive about you as a person and very supportive of all the efforts you've been leading at Blue. What's your thoughts? You worked with a lot of leaders at Amazon at Blue. What's your thoughts about Elon as a human being and a leader?


Well, I don't really know Elon very well. I know his public persona, but I also know you can't know anyone by their public persona. It's impossible. I mean, you may think you do, but I guarantee you don't. So I don't really know. You know Elon way better than I do, Lex. But in terms of his judging by the results, he must be a very capable leader. There's no way you could have Tesla and SpaceX without being a capable leader. It's impossible.


Yeah, I just I hope you guys hang out sometimes, shake hands and have a friendship that would inspirethe entire, just the entirety of humanity, because what you're doing is like one of the big grand challenges ahead for humanity.


Well, I agree with you. I think in a lot of these endeavors, we're very like-minded. I'm not saying we're identical, but I think we're very like-minded. I love that idea.


All right, going back to sexy pictures on your Instagram, there's a video of you from the early days of Amazon giving a tour of your offices. I think your dad is holding the camera.


He is, yeah, I know, right? Yes. This is what? The giant orange extension cord?


Yeah. And you're explaining the genius of the extension cord and how this is a desk and the CRT monitor and that's where all the magic happens. I forget what your dad said, but this is the center of it all. What was it like? What was going to your mind at that time? You left a good job in New York and took this leap. Were you excited? Were you scared?


I was so excited and scared, anxious, thought the odds of success were low. I told all of our early investors that I thought there was a 30 % chance of success, by which I'd just been getting your money back, not what actually happened. Because that's the truth. Every startup company is unlikely to work. It's helpful to be in reality about that, but that doesn't mean you can't be optimistic. You have to have this duality in your head. On the one hand, you know what the baseline statistics say about startup companies. On the other hand, you have to ignore all of that and just be 100 % sure it's going to work. You're doing both things at the same time. You're holding that contradiction in your head. But it was so exciting. From 1994, when the company was founded in 1995, when we opened our doors all the way until today, I find Amazon so exciting. That doesn't mean it's full of pain, full of problems. There's so many things that need to be resolved and worked and made better and et cetera. But on balance, it's so fun. It's such a privilege. It's been such a joy.


I feel so grateful that I've been part of that journey. It's just been incredible.


In some sense, you don't want a single day of comfort. You've written about this many times. We'll talk about your writing, which I would highly recommend people read in just the letters to shareholders. You wrote explaining the idea of day one thinking. I think you first wrote about it in 97 letters to shareholders. Then you also, in a way, wrote about, sad to say, your last letters to shareholders and COO. You said that day two is stasis followed by irrelevance, followed by excruciating painful decline, followed by death. And that is why it's always day one. Can you explain this day one thing? This is a really powerful way to describe the beginning and the journey of Amazon.


It's really a very simple and I think age old idea about renewal and rebirth. And every day is day one. Every day you're deciding what you're going to do. And you are not trapped by what you were or who you were or any self-consistency. Self-consistency even can be a trap. And so day one thinking is we start fresh every day, and we get to make new decisions every day about invention, about customers, about how we're going to operate even as deeply as what our principles are. We can go back to that. It turns out we don't change those very often, but we change them occasionally. When we work on programs at Amazon, we often make a list of tenants. The tenants are, they're not principles. They're a little more tactical than principles, but it's the main ideas that we want this program to embody, whatever those are. One of the things that we do is we put these are the tenants for this program, and then in parentheses, we always put, unless you know a better way. That idea, unless you know a better way, is so important because you never want to get trapped by dogma.


You never want to get trapped by history. It doesn't mean you discard history or ignore it. There's so much value in what has worked in the past, but you can't be blindly following what you've done. And that's the heart of day one, because you're always starting fresh.


And to the question of how to fend off day two, you said, Such a question can't have a simple answer, as you're saying. There will be many elements, multiple paths, and many traps. I don't know the whole answer, but I may know bits of it. Here's a starter pack of essentials. Maybe others come to mind. For day one, defense. Customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making. So we talked about high-velocity decision making. That's more difficult than it sounds. So maybe you can pick one that stands out to you, as you can comment on. Eager adoption of external trends, high-velocity decision making, skeptical view of proxies. How do you fight off day two?


Well, I'll talk about it because I think it's the one that is maybe in some ways the hardest to understand is the skeptical view of proxies. One of the things that happens in business, probably anything where you have an ongoing program and something is underway for a number of years, is you develop certain things that you're managing to. Let's say the typical case would be a metric. That metric isn't the real underlying thing. Maybe the metric is efficiency metric around customer contacts per unit sold or something like, if you sell a million units, how many customer contacts do you get? Or how many returns do you get? And so on and so on. And so what happens is a little bit of a inertia sets in where somebody a long time ago invented that metric. And they invented that metric. They decided we need to watch for customer returns per unit sold as an important metric. But they had a reason why they chose that metric, the person who invented that metric and decided it was worth watching. And then fast forward five years, that metric is the proxy.


The proxy for truth.


I guess. The real thing, the proxy for truth, the proxy for customer... Let's say in this case, it's a proxy for customer happiness. But that metric is not actually customer happiness. It's a proxy for customer happiness. The person who invented the metric understood that connection. Five years later, a inertia had set in, and you forget the truth behind why you were watching that metric in the first place and the world shifts a little. Now that proxy isn't as valuable as it used to be, or it's missing something. You have to be on alert for that. You have to know, Okay, I don't really care about this metric. I care about customer happiness. This metric is worth putting energy into and following and improving and scrutinizing only in so much as actually affects customer happiness. You've got to constantly be on guard. It's very, very common. This is a nuanced problem. It's very common, especially in large companies, that they are managing to metrics that they don't really understand. They don't really know why they exist. And the world may have shifted out from under them a little, and the metrics are no longer as relevant as they were when somebody 10 years earlier invented the metric.


That is a nuance, but that's a big problem, right? It's a huge problem. There's something so compelling to have a nice metric to try to optimize.


Yes. And by the way, you do need metrics. Yes, you do. You can't ignore them. You want them, but you just have to be constantly on guard. This is a way to slip into day two thinking, would be to manage your business to metrics that you don't really understand, and you're not really sure why they were invented in the first place, and you're not sure they're as relevant as they used to be.


What does it take to be the guy or gal who brings up the point that this proxy might be outdated? I guess what does it take to have a culture that enables that in the meeting? Because that's a very uncomfortable thing to bring up at a meeting. We all showed up here at.


The Friday. You have just asked a million dollar question. If I generalize what you're asking, you're talking in general about truth telling.




We humans are not really truth-seeking animals. We are social animals.


Yeah, we are.


I take you back in time 10,000 years and you're in a small village. If you go along to get along, you can survive. You can procreate. If you're the village truth teller, you might get clubbed to death in the middle of the night. Truths are often... They don't want to be heard because important truths can be uncomfortable. They can be awkward. They can be exhausting.


Impolite. Yes.


All that stuff. Challenging. They can make people defensive, even if that's not the intent. But any high-performing organization, whether it's a sports team, a business, a political organization, activist group, I don't care what it is. Any high-performing organization has to have mechanisms and a culture that supports truth telling. One of the things you have to do is you have to talk about that. You have to talk about the fact that it takes energy to do that. You have to talk to people. You have to remind people it's okay that it's uncomfortable. You have to literally tell people it's not what we're designed to do as humans. It's not really... It's a side effect. We can do that. But it's not how we survive. We mostly survive by being social animals and being cordial and cooperative, and that's really important. And so science is all about truth telling. It's actually a very formal mechanism for trying to tell the truth. And even in science, you find that it's hard to tell the truth. You're supposed to have a hypothesis, test it and find data and reject the hypothesis and so on. It's not easy.


But even in science, there's the senior scientists and the junior scientists, and then there's a hierarchy of humans where somehow seniority matters in the scientific process, which.


Is true not. And that's true inside companies too. And so you want to set up your culture so that the most junior person can overrule the most senior person if they have data. And that really is about trying to... There are little things you can do. So, for example, in every meeting that I attend, I always speak last. I know from experience that if I speak first, even very strong-willed, highly intelligent, high-judgment participants in that meeting will wonder, Well, if Jeff thinks that, I came in this meeting thinking one thing, but maybe I'm not right. You can do little things like, if you're the most senior person in the room, go last. But everybody else go first. In fact, ideally, let's try to have the most junior person go first and the second then try to go in order of seniority so that you can hear everyone's opinion in a unfiltered way because we really do. We actually literally change our opinions. If somebody who you really respect says something, it makes you change your mind a little.


So you're saying implicitly or explicitly give permission for people to have a strong opinion that as long as it's backed by data.


Yes. And sometimes it can even... By the way, a lot of our most powerful truths turn out to be hunches. They turn out to be based on anecdotes. They're intuition-based. Sometimes you don't even have strong data. But you may know the person well enough to trust their judgment. You may feel yourself leaning in. It may resonate with a set of anecdotes you have. Then you may be able to say, You know, something about that feels right. Let's go collect some data on that. Let's try to see if we can actually know whether it's right. But for now, let's not disregard it because it feels right. You can also fight inherent bias. There's an optimism bias. Like if there are two interpretations of a new set of data, and one of them is happy and one of them is unhappy, it's a little dangerous to jump to the conclusion that the happy interpretation is right. You may want to compensate for that human bias of looking for trying to find the silver lining and say, Look, like, That might be good, but I'm going to go with it's bad for now until we're sure.


Speaking of happiness, bias, data collection, and anecdotes, you have to... How is that for transition? You have to- You have to tell me the story of the call you made, the customer service call you made to demonstrate a point about wait times.


Yeah, this is very early in the history of Amazon, and we were going over a weekly business review and a set of documents. I have a saying, which is when the data and the anecdotes disagree, the anecdotes are usually right. It doesn't mean you just slavishly go follow the anecdotes then. It means you go examine the data. It's usually not that the data is being miscollected. It's usually that you're not measuring the right thing. And so if you have a bunch of customers complaining about something, and at the same time, your metrics look like, why they shouldn't be complaining, you should doubt the metrics. And an early example of this was we had metrics that showed that our customers were waiting, I think, less than, I don't know, 60 seconds. When they called a 1-800 number to get phone customer service, the wait time was supposed to be less than 60 seconds. But we had a lot of complaints that it was longer than that. Anecdotally, it seemed longer than that. I would call customer service myself. One day, we're in a meeting, we're going through the WBR and the weekly business review, and we get to this metric in the deck, and the guy who leads customer service is defending the metric.


I said, Okay, let's call. I picked up the phone, and I dialed the 1-800 number and called customer service, and we just waited in silence for.


The- What did it turn out to be? Like, a minute?


Oh, it was really long. More than 10 minutes, I think. Oh, wow. I mean, it was many minutes. And so it dramatically made the point that something was wrong with the data collection. We weren't measuring the right thing, and that set off a whole chain of events where we started measuring it right. And that's an example, by the way, of truth telling, is like, that's an uncomfortable thing to do. But you have to seek truth even when it's uncomfortable. And you have to get people's attention, and they have to buy into it, and they have to get energized around really fixing things.


So that speaks to the obsession with the customer experience. So one of the defining aspects of your approach to Amazon is just being obsessed with making customers happy. I think companies sometimes say that, but Amazon is really obsessed with that. I think there's something really profound to that, which is seeing the world through the eyes of the customer, like the customer experience, the human being that's using the product, that's enjoying the product product? They're like the subtle little things that make up their experience. How do you optimize those?


This is another really good and deep question because there are big things that are really important to manage. And then there are small things internally to Amazon. We call them paper cuts. We're always working on the big things. If you ask me, and most of the energy goes into the big things as it should, and you can identify the big things, and I would encourage anybody, if anybody listening to this is an entrepreneur, small business, whatever, think about the things that are not going to change over 10 years, and those are probably the big things. I know in our retail business at Amazon, 10 years from now, customers are still going to want low prices. I know they're still going to want fast delivery, and I just know they're still going to want big selection. It's impossible to imagine a scenario where 10 years from now, I say, where a customer says, I love Amazon. I just wish the prices were a little higher, or I love Amazon, I just wish you delivered a little more slowly. When you identify the big things, you can tell they're worth putting energy into because they're stable in time.


Okay, but you're asking about something a little different, which is in every customer experience, there are those big things. By the way, it's astonishingly hard to focus even on just the big things. So even though they're obvious, they're really hard to focus on. But in addition to that, there are all these little tiny customer experience deficiencies, and we call those paper cuts, and we make long lists of them. Then we have dedicated teams that go fix paper cuts because the teams working on the big issues never get to the paper cuts. They never work their way down the list to get to... They're working on big things as they should and as you want them to. And so you need special teams who are charged with fixing paper cuts.


Where would you put on the paper cut spectrum the buy now with one click button, which is, I think, pretty genius. So to me, okay, my interaction with things I love on the Internet. There's things I do a lot. I may be representing a regular human. I would love for those things to be frictionless. For example, booking airline tickets, just saying. But buying a thing with one click, making that experience frictionless, intuitive, all aspects of that. That just fundamentally makes my life better. Not just in terms of efficiency, in terms of some -.




Load. Yeah, cognitive load and inner peace and happiness. First of all, buying stuff is a pleasant experience. Having enough money to buy a thing and then buying it is a pleasant experience. And having pain around that is somehow just you're ruining a beautiful experience. I guess all I'm saying as a person who loves good ideas, is that a paper cut? A solution to a paper cut?


Yes. That particular thing is probably a solution to a number of paper cuts. If you go back and look at our order pipeline and how people shopped on Amazon before we invented one-click shopping, there were a... There was more friction. There was a whole series of paper cuts, and that invention eliminated a bunch of paper cuts. And I think you're absolutely right, by the way, that when you come up with something like one-click shopping, again, this is so ingrained in people now. I'm impressed that you even notice it. I mean.


Most people- Every time I click the button, I just- -ever just never know. -just a surge of happiness.


There is, in the perfect invention for the perfect moment, in the perfect context, there is real beauty. It is actual beauty, and it feels good. It's emotional. It's emotional for the inventor, center. It's emotional for the team that builds it. It's emotional for the customer. It's a big deal. And you can feel those things.


But to keep coming up with that idea, with those kinds of ideas, I guess, is the day one thinking effort.


Yeah. And you need a big group of people who feel that satisfaction with creating that beauty.


There's a lot of books written about you. There's a book, Invent and wander, where Walter Isaacson does an intro. And it's mostly collective writings of yours. I've read that. I also recommend people check out the Founders podcast that covers you a lot, and it does different analyzes of different business advice you've given over the years. I bring all that up because I saw that there I mentioned that you said that books are an antidote for short attention spans. I forget how it was phrased, but that when you were thinking about the Kindle, that you're thinking about how technology changes us.


We co-evolve.




Our tools. So we invent new tools, and then our tools change us.


Which is fascinating.


To think about. It goes in a circle.


And there's some aspect, even just inside business, where you don't just make the customer happy, but you also have to think about where is this going to take humanity if you zoom out a bit.


100 %. You can feel your brain... Brains are plastic, and you can feel your brain getting reprogrammed. I remember the first time this happened to me was when Tetris, who first came on the scene... I'm sure anybody who has been a gameplayer has this experience where you close your eyes to lay down to go to sleep and you see all the little blocks moving and you're rotating them in your mind and you can just tell as you walk around the world that you have rewired your brain to play Tetris. But that happens with everything. One of the, I think... We still have yet to see the full repercussions of this, I fear. But I think one of the things that we've done online, and largely because of social media, is we have trained our brains to be really good at processing super short-form content. Your podcast flies in the face of this. You do these long format things. And reading books is a long format thing. And we all do more of, if something is convenient, we do more of it. And so when you make tools, we carry around in our pocket a phone.


And one of the things that phone does for the most part is it is an attention shortening device, because most of the things we do on our phone shorten our attention spans. And I'm not even going to say we know for sure that that's bad, but I do think it's happening. It's one of the ways we're co-evolving with that tool. But I think it's important to spend some of your time and some of your life doing long attention span things.


Yeah, I think you've spoken about the value in your own life of focus, of singular focus on a thing for prolonged periods of time, and that's certainly what books do, and that's certainly what that piece of technology does. But I bring all that up to ask you about another piece of technology, AI, that has the potential to have various trajectories to have an impact on human civilization. How do you think AI will change us?


If you're talking about generative AI, large language models, things like ChatGPT and its soon successors, these are incredibly powerful technologies to believe otherwise, is to bury your head in the sand, soon to be even more powerful. It's interesting to me that large language models in their current form are not inventions, they're discoveries. The telescope was an invention, but looking through it at Jupiter, knowing that it had was a discovery. My God, it has moons. And that's what Galileo did. And so this is closer on that spectrum of invention. We know exactly what happens with a 787. It's an engineered object. We designed it. We know how it behaves. We don't want any surprises. Large language models are much more like discoveries. We're constantly getting surprised by their capabilities. They're not really engineered objects. Then you have this debate about whether they're going to be good for humanity or bad for humanity. You know, even specialized AI can be very bad for humanity. I mean, just regular machine learning models that can make certain weapons of war that could be incredibly destructive, very powerful, and they're not general AIs, they're just... They could just be very smart weapons.


We have to think about all of those things. I'm very optimistic about this. So even in the face of all this uncertainty, my own view is that these powerful tools are much more likely to help us and save us even, than they are to unbalance, hurt us and destroy us. I think we humans have a lot of ways of we can make ourselves go extinct. These things may help us not do that. They may actually save us. The people who are overly concerned, in my view, overly concerned, it's a valid debate. I think that they may be missing part of the equation, which is how helpful they could be in making sure we don't destroy ourselves. I don't know if you saw the movie Oppenheimer, but to me, first of all, I loved the movie, and I thought the best part of the movie is this bureaucrat, played by Robert Downey Jr, who some people have talked to think that's the most boring part of the movie. I thought it was the most fascinating because what's going on here is you realize we have invented these awesome, destructive, powerful technologies called nuclear weapons, and they are managed.


We humans are we're not really capable of wielding those weapons. That's what he represented in that movie is, here's this guy who is just hes wrongly thinks he's being so petty, he thinks that he said something that Oppenheimer said something bad to Einstein about him. They didn't talk about him at all, as you find out in the final scene of the movie. Yet he spent his career trying to be vengeful and petty. That's the problem. We, as a species, are not really sophisticated enough and mature enough to handle these technologies. By the way, before you get to general AI and the possibility of AI having agency, and there's a lot of things would have to happen, but there's so much benefit that's going to come from these technologies in the meantime, even before their general AI in terms of better medicines and better tools to develop more technologies and so on. I think it's an incredible moment to be alive and to witness the transformations that are going to happen, how quickly will happen? No one knows. But over the next 10 years and 20 years, I think we're going to see really remarkable advances.


And I personally am very excited about it.


First of all, really interesting to say that it's discoveries that it's true that we don't know the limits of what's possible with the current language models.


We don't.


And it could be a few tricks and hacks here and there that open doors to hold entire new possibilities.


We do know that humans are doing something different from these models, in part because we're so power-efficient. The human brain does remarkable things, and it does it on about 20 watts of power. The AI techniques we use today use many kilowatts of power to do equivalent tasks. There's something interesting about the way the human brain does this. Also, we don't need as much data. Self-driving cars, or they have to drive billions and billions of miles to try to learn how to drive. Your average 16-year-old figures it out with many fewer miles. There are still some tricks, I think, that we have yet to learn. I don't think we've learned the last trick. I don't think it's just a question of scaling things up. But what's interesting is that just scaling things up, and I put just in quotes because it's actually hard to scale things up, but just scaling things up also appears to pay huge dividends.


Yeah, and there's some more nuanced aspect about human beings that's interesting if it's able to accomplish being truly original and novel to large language models, being able to come up with some truly new ideas. That's one. And the other one is truth. It seems that large language models are very good at sounding like they're saying a true thing, but they don't require or often have a grounding and a mathematical truth. It just basically is a very good bullshitter. So if there's not enough data in the training data about a particular topic, it's just going to concoct accurate sounding narratives, which is a very fascinating problem to try to solve. How do you get language models to infer what is true or not to introspect?


Yeah. They need to be taught to say, I don't know, more often. And I know of several humans who could be taught that as well. Sure.


And then the other stuff, because you're still a bit involved in the Amazon side with the AI things. The other open question is what products are created from this?


Oh, so many. Yeah. We have Alexa and Echo, and Alexa has hundreds of millions of installed base inputs. And so there's Alexa everywhere. And guess what? Alexa is about to get a lot smarter. Yeah. And so that's really, from a product point of view, that's super exciting.


There's so many opportunities there.


So many opportunities. Shopping assistant, all that stuff is amazing. In AWS, we're building Titan, which is our foundational model. We're also building Bedrock, which our corporate clients at AWS, our enterprise clients, they want to be able to use these powerful models with their own corporate data without accidentally contributing their corporate data to that model. And so those are the tools we're building for them with Bedrock. So there's a tremendous opportunity here.


Yeah, the security, the privacy, all those things are fascinating because so much value can be gained by training on private data, but you want to keep the secure. It's a.


Fascinating technical problem. Yes, this is a very challenging technical problem, and it's one that we're making progress on and dedicated to solving for our customers.


Do you think there will be a day when humans and robots, maybe Alexa, have a romantic relationship? I could maybe be her.


Well, I think if you look at.


The- I'm just.


Brainstorming products here. If you look at the spectrum of human variety and what people like, sexual variety, there are people who like everything. So the answer to your question has to be yes.


I don't know.


How widespread that.


Will be, but.


It will happen.


I was just asking when for a friend, but it's all right. I'm just moving on. Next question. What's a perfectly productive day in the life of Jeff Bezos? You're one of the most productive humans in the world.


Well, first of all, I get up in the morning and I mutter. I have a coffee.


Can you define mutter?


Just like I slowly move around. I'm not as productive as you might think I am because I do believe in wandering. I read my phone for a while, I read newspapers for a while, I chat with Laura and I drink my first coffee. I move pretty slowly in the first couple of hours. I get up early, just naturally. Then I exercise most days, and most days it's not that hard for me. Some days it's really hard, and I do it anyway. I don't want to. It's painful. I'm like, Why am I here? I don't want to do that.


You mean, Why am I here at the gym?


Why am I here at the gym? Why don't I do something else? It's not always easy.


What's your source of motivation in those moments?


I know that I'll feel better later if I do it. The real source of motivation, I can tell the days when I skip it, I'm not quite as alert, I don't feel as good. Then there's harder motivations. It's longer term. You want to be healthy as you age. You want health span. Ideally, you want to be healthy and moving around when you're 80 years old. There's a lot of... But that motivation is so far in the future, it can be very hard to work in the second. So thinking about the fact, I'll feel better in about four hours if I do it now, I'll have more energy for the rest of my day and so on and.


So on. What's your exercise routine just to linger on that? How much you curl? What are we talking about here? That's all I do at the gym, so I just...


My routine, on a good day, I do about half an hour of cardio, and I do about 45 minutes of weightlifting, resistance training of some kind, mostly weights. I have a trainer who I love who pushes me, which is really helpful. I'll be like, he'll say, Jeff, can we go up on that weight a little bit and I'll think about it. I'll be like, No, I don't think so. He'll look at me and say, Yeah, I think you can. And of course, he's right. Yeah, of course. It's helpful to have somebody push you a little bit.


But almost every day.


You do that. I do. Almost every day I do a little bit of cardio and a little bit of weightlifting. I'd rotate. I do a pulling day and a pushing day and a leg day. It's all pretty standard stuff.


So puttering, coffee, gym.


Puttering, coffee, gym, and then work.


What does work look like? What do the productive hours look like for you?


A couple of years ago, I left as the CEO of Amazon, and I have never worked harder in my life. I am working so hard, and I'm mostly enjoying it. But there are also some very painful days. Most of my time is spent on Blue Origin, and I've been so deeply involved here now for the last couple of years. In the big, I love it. In the small, there's all the frustrations that come along with everything. We're trying to get to rate manufacturing, as we talked about, that's super important. We'll get there. We just hired a new CEO, a guy I've known for close to 15 years now, a guy named Dave Limp, who I love. He's amazing. We're super lucky to have Dave, and you're going to see us move faster there. But my day of work, reading documents, having meetings, sometimes in person, sometimes over Zoom, depends on where I am. It's all about the technology. It's about the organization. I have architecture and technology meetings almost every day on various subsystems inside the vehicle, inside the engines. It's super fun for me. My favorite part of it is the technology. My least favorite part of it is building organizations and so on.


That's important, but it's also my least favorite part. So that's why they call it work. You don't always get to do what you want to do.


How do you achieve time where you can focus and truly think through problems?


I do little thinking retreats. So this is not the only... I can do that all day long. I'm very good at focusing. I'm very good at... I don't keep to a strict schedule. My meetings often go longer than I plan for them to because I believe in wandering. My perfect meeting starts with a crisp document. The document should be written with such clarity that it's like angels singing from on high. I like a crisp document and a messy meeting. The meeting is about asking questions that nobody knows the answer to and trying to wander your way to a solution. And when that happens just right, it makes all the other meetings worthwhile. It feels good. It has a beauty to it. It has an esthetic beauty to it, and you get real breakthroughs in meetings like that.


Can you actually describe the crisp document? This is one of the legendary aspects of Amazon of the way you approach meetings. This is the six-page memo. Maybe first describe the process of running a meeting with memos.


And- Meetings at Amazon and Blue Origin are unusual. When new people come in, like a new executive joins, they're a little taken aback sometimes because the typical meeting will start with a six-page, narratively structured memo, and we do study hall. For 30 minutes, we sit there silently together in the meeting and read, take notes in the margins, and then we discuss. The reason, by the way, we do study... You could say, I would like everybody to read these memos in advance, but the problem is people don't have time to do that, and they end up coming to the meeting having only skimmed the memo or maybe not read it at all, and they're trying to catch up. They're also bluffing like they were in college, having pretended to do the reading. Exactly. It's better just to carve out the time for people. Now we're all on the same page. We've all read the memo, and now we can have a really elevated discussion. This is so much better from having a Slideshow presentation, a PowerPoint presentation of some kind, where that has many difficulties. But one of the problems is PowerPoint is really designed to persuade.


It's a sales tool. Internally, the last thing you want to do is sell. Again, you're truth seeking. You're trying to find truth. The other problem with PowerPoint is it's easy for the author and hard for the audience. A memo is the opposite. It's hard to write a six-page memo. A good six-page memo might take two weeks to write. You have to write it, you have to rewrite it, you have to edit it, you have to talk to people about it, they have to poke holes in it for you, you write it again. It might take two weeks. The author, it's really a very difficult job. But for the audience, it's much better. You can read a half hour. There are little problems with PowerPoint presentations, too. Senior executives interrupt with questions halfway through the presentation. That question is going to be answered on the next slide, but you never got there. Because if you read the whole memo in advance, I often write lots of questions that I have in the margins of these memos, and then I go cross them all out because by the time I get to the end of the memo, they've been answered.


That's why I save all that time. You also get, if the person is preparing the memo, we talked earlier about groupthink and the fact that I go last in meetings and that you don't want your ideas to pollute the meeting prematurely. The author of the memos has got to be very vulnerable. They've got to put all their thoughts out there, and they've got to go first. But that's great because it makes them really good, and you get to see their real ideas, and you're not trompling on them accidentally in a big PowerPoint presentation.


What does that feel like when you've authored a thing and then you're sitting there and everybody's reading your thing?


You're like- I think it's mostly terrifying.


Yeah. Like maybe in a good way?


I think it's-.


Like a.


Purifying- I think it's terrifying in a productive way. But I think it's emotionally a very nerve-wrecking experience.


Is there art, science to the writing of the six-page memo or just writing in general to you?


I mean, it's really got to be a real memo. So it means paragraphs have topic sentences, it'sverbs and nouns. That's the other problem with PowerPoint, they're often just bullet points. And you can hide a lot of sloppy thinking behind bullet points. When you have to write in complete sentences with narrative structure, it's really hard to hide sloppy thinking. So it forces the author to be at their best. And so you're getting somebody's really their best thinking. And then you don't have to spend a lot of time trying to tease that thinking out of the person. You've got it from the very beginning. So it really saves you time in the long run.


So that part is crisp and then the rest is messy.


Crisp documents- Yes. You don't want to pretend that the discussion should be crisp. In most meetings, you're trying to solve a really hard problem. There's a different meeting, which we call weekly business reviews or business reviews. They may be weekly or monthly or daily, whatever they are. But these business review meetings, that's usually for incremental improvement. And you're looking at a series of metrics every time it's the same metrics. Those meetings can be very efficient. They can start on time and end on time.


So we're about to run out of time, which is a good time to ask about the 10,000-year clock. That's what I'm known for, is the humor. Okay, can you explain what a 10,000-year clock is?


10,000-year clock is a physical clock of monumental scale. It's about 500 feet tall. It's inside a mountain in West Texas. It's in a chamber that's about 12 feet in diameter and 500 feet tall. 10,000 Year clock is an idea conceived by a brilliant guy named Danny Hillis way back in the '80s. The idea is to build a clock as a symbol for long term thinking. And you can just very conceptually think of the 10,000 Year clock as it ticks once a year, it chimes once every 100 years, and the cuckoo comes out once every thousand years, so it just slows everything down. And it's a completely mechanical clock. It is designed to last 10,000 years with no human intervention. So the material choices and everything else, it's in a remote location both to protect it, but also so that visitors have to make a pilgrimage. The idea is that over time, and this will take hundreds of years, but over time, it will take on the patina of age, and then it will become a symbol for long-term thinking that will actually, hopefully, get humans to extend their thinking horizons. In my view, that's really important as we have become, as a species, as a civilization, more powerful.


We're really affecting the planet now. We're really affecting each other. We have weapons of mass destruction. We have all kinds of things where we can really hurt ourselves. The problems we create can be so large, the unintended consequences of some of our actions, like climate change, putting carbon in the atmosphere is a perfect example. That's an unintended consequence of the Industrial Revolution. We got a lot of benefits from it, but we've also got this side effect that is very detrimental. We need to be... We need to start training ourselves to think longer term. Long term thinking is a giant lever. You can literally solve problems if you think long term that are impossible to solve if you think short term. We aren't really good at thinking long term. Five years is a tough time frame for most institutions to think past. We probably need to stretch that to 10 years and 15 years and 20 years and 25 years, and we do a better job for our children or our grandchildren if we could stretch those thinking horizons. And so the clock is in a way, it's an art project. It's a symbol. And if it ever has any power to influence people to think longer term, that won't happen for hundreds of years.


But we're going to build it now and let it accrue the patina of age.


Do you think humans will be here when the clock runs out here on Earth?


I think so. But the United States won't exist. Like, whole civilizations rise and felt 10,000 years is so long. Like, no nation state has ever survived for anywhere close to 10,000 years.


And the increasing rate of progress makes that.


Even-even less likely. So do I think humans will be here? Yes. How will we have changed ourselves and what will we be and so on and so on? I don't know, but I think we'll be here.


On that grand scale, human life feels tiny. Do you ponder your own mortality? Are you afraid of death?


No, I used to be afraid of death. I did. I remember as a young person being very scared of mortality, like didn't want to think about it and so on. And I've gotten older, I'm 59 now. As I've gotten older, somehow that fear has gone away. I would like to stay alive for as long as possible, but I'd like to be... I'm really more focused on health span. I want to be healthy. I want that square wave. I want to be healthy, healthy, healthy, and then gone. I don't want the long decay. I'm curious. I want to see how things turn out. I'd like to be here. I love my family and my close friends, and I'm curious about them, and I want to see. I have a lot of reasons to stay around. But it's... Mortality doesn't have that effect on me that it did maybe when I was in my 20s.


Well, Jeff, thank you for creating Amazon, one of the most incredible companies in history. And thank you for trying your best to make humans a multoplanetary species, expanding out into our solar system, maybe beyond to meet the aliens out there. And thank you for talking today.


Lex, thank you for doing your part to lengthen our attention spans. I appreciate that very much. You did my best.


Thanks for listening to this conversation with Jeff Bezos. To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. Now, let me leave you with some words from Jeff Bezos himself. Be stubborn on vision, but flexible on the details. Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.