Bezos’s Blue Origin names former Amazon executive as CEO -internal email

Reuters | September 25, 2023

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By Joey Roulette

(Reuters) -The chief executive officer of Jeff Bezos’s space company Blue Origin, Bob Smith, will step down at the end of the year to be replaced by former Amazon executive Dave Limp, who ran products such as Kindle, according to emails seen by Reuters.

Limp, a former senior vice president at Amazon who led the company’s consumer devices unit, will become Blue Origin’s CEO on Dec. 4, an email from Bezos, Blue Origin’s founder, said.

“Jeff and I have been discussing my plan for months,” Smith told employees in an email sent Monday. He added he would remain with the company until Jan. 2 “to ensure a smooth transition with the new CEO.”

Limp, a more than 13-year veteran of Amazon, had overseen some of Amazon’s well-known consumer devices, such as Echo products. However, he announced his retirement in August after that division struggled to bring in revenue and cut jobs.

Limp has some experience in space. While at Amazon, he oversaw the creation of Amazon’s Kuiper project, a planned network of thousands of internet-beaming satellites that will compete with SpaceX’s Starlink network.

At Blue Origin, Limp will oversee the long-delayed start of the company’s orbital launch business, a potentially crucial source of revenue, and its lunar lander business, which plans to put humans on the moon for NASA by the end of the decade.

Smith, a former Honeywell Aerospace executive, was brought on by Bezos as CEO in 2017 to help grow Blue Origin from what had largely been a research and development-focused company into a formidable rival to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which dominates the launch and spaceflight industry.

While Blue Origin has had success with its suborbital space tourism business under Smith’s leadership, the company lost out to SpaceX and other companies on lucrative and high-profile government contracts that were crucial to Blue Origin’s goal of launching humans and satellites beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

The company, founded in 2000, has yet to launch anything into Earth’s orbit but is in the final stages of developing a heavy-lift rocket, dubbed New Glenn, that it hopes will challenge SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 and future Starship rocket.

It has struggled to catch up with SpaceX and the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance and has adopted a slogan “Gradatim Ferociter” meaning “step by step, ferociously” as it looks to speed up development.

“Through this transition, I know we’ll remain focused on our customer commitments, production schedules and executing with speed and operational excellence,” Bezos said in his note on Limp’s appointment.

(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Pooja Desai and Sonali Paul)


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