The richest man in the world spends a billion dollars a year to catapult humanity into space. Apart from this goal, the threat of an antitrust investigation by the government against its trillion dollar company is no big deal.
That was the impression Jeff Bezos gave at the Wired 25 summit in San Francisco on Monday. In an unscheduled interview, Bezos raved about his space startup Blue Origin – but he also insisted that the government turn up the heat on Amazon, which some observers say is a monopoly that needs to be resolved.
"All major institutions should be questioned," Bezos said in an unusually subdued tone. "It makes sense for me." He added that he had prepared his managers for an investigation that he considers ineligible.
"I'm preaching this in Amazon: & # 39; That will happen, it's normal, do not take it personally & # 39 ;," Bezos revealed. What should his leaders do about it? "Behave yourself so that, if you are tested, you will succeed brilliantly."
This open-book approach differs significantly from that of Bezos & Seattle, Bill Gates, 20 years ago ] he was the richest man in the world who had a federal investigation in mind ,
After Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser helped drive Netscape out of business, Gates insisted that his company did not need oversight. After a three-year antitrust case, a federal judge awarded Microsoft a set of business restrictions that allowed its competitors to develop.
Last month, the European Union began by calling its antitrust commissioner a "first investigation" on whether Amazon used unauthorized third-party data to inform its own e-commerce decisions.
There's antitrust grumbling in the US as well – not just because Donald Trump has beef with Bezos, the owner of Washington Post . This summer, the Federal Trade Commission has tasked one of the strongest proponents of the legal world to consider Amazon as a retail monopoly and dissolve it, just as the US government did with Standard Oil.
In the meantime Bezos seems to give a conciliatory note. Earlier this month, Amazon announced that all US employees would have to pay a minimum wage of $ 15, something activists like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had demanded.
On the Wired Summit stage, Bezos insisted that he disliked "winner-needs-all-industries". That was in the context of Blue Origin, which he hopes will enable "thousands of companies" in the space industry, including a new generation of entrepreneurs he called "the Sugar Mountain of Space [Mark]".
But in retailing with its aggressively small profit margins Amazon is becoming more and more the winner. Whether the future of Zuckerberg's e-commerce can still be innovative depends on whether antitrust authorities can find a way to break the stranglehold – and how cool Bezos really is with these steps.