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A group of former employees of Blue Origin, the space tourism company of tycoon Jeff Bezos, criticized the allegedly “toxic” executive leadership and corporate culture of the firm in a report published Monday by The Washington Post, also owned by the founder of Amazon.
The Post cites an internal memo written by a former executive before leaving his post and interviews with about 20 workers or former workers on condition of anonymity, alleging that Blue Origin’s leadership is “authoritarian” and “dysfunctional” and accommodates sexist and demoralizing behavior.
Bezos, the second-richest man on the planet, founded Blue Origin a few years after creating Amazon with the intention of developing aerospace technology and boosting commercial space travel, and a few months ago decided to focus on this project accompanied by Bob Smith as CEO.
Smith has been in the spotlight since last month, when the former head of internal communications, Alexandra Abrams, wrote an essay with the help of other workers in which she claimed that the leadership allowed sexist attitudes, did not care about safety and “silenced” those who disagreed.
The CEO assured in a subsequent note that such allegations are being investigated, something reiterated today by human resources management, but the picture described by sources is one of a lack of confidence in leadership, especially because — they say — Bezos has been “distracted” by his divorce and other matters.
“Our current culture is toxic to our success and many can see it spreading throughout the company,” said a former executive leaving the firm in 2019 in the note cited above, sent to Bezos and Smith, describing “systemic” problems and highlighting “the loss of confidence in Blue’s leadership.”
Ahead of the publication of the report by the Post, a media outlet Bezos bought in 2013, the entrepreneur last night shared a tweet showing a 1999 cover that was critical of Amazon and himself, and wrote: “Listen and be open, but don’t let anybody tell you who you are.”
“This was just one of the many stories telling us all the ways we were going to fail. Today, Amazon is one of the world’s most successful companies and has revolutionized two entirely different industries,” Bezos added.
On July 20, Jeff Bezos took part in Blue Origin’s first manned journey, reaching space in a short flight of about 11 minutes from West Texas.
Bezos was joined by his brother Mark, as well as 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student and son of a billionaire.