Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has come under intense criticism for comments he made in a press conference on Tuesday, after the inaugural space flight from his company Blue Origin, in which Bezos became the richest man ever to go to space, beating fellow space competitor and British businessman Richard Branson.
The world’s richest man held a press conference after he landed from his Blue Origin space flight, in which the crew was adrift on the edge of space for 10 minutes before returning to Earth.
In the conference, he thanked all Amazon workers and customers, claiming that “you guys paid for this.”
Thank you for sending me to space
This upset many people on social media, including the likes of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who accused Bezos of mistreating his employees.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was one of the first high-level politicians to hit out against the former Amazon CEO for his “tone deaf” comments after his spaceflight.
The Senator stated that he wasn’t impressed by the actions of Bezos, claiming that he had failed to pay a cent of federal income tax whilst his workers struggle to make basic payments.
He finished his tweet by stating that it was time to “invest in working people here on Earth.”
Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren followed on from Sanders’ comments, criticizing the former CEO for his lack of tax payments.
She retweeted a post that quoted the comments made by the billionaire businessman, stating that Bezos forgot to thank the “hardworking taxpayer who actually paid taxes,” before accusing both Bezos and Amazon of paying nothing.
Following up with that tweet, Warren encouraged users to support her “three-step plan” to alter US tax laws, that will supposedly go after “wealthy tax cheats.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was next up, but she took a different approach.
She took aim that the supposed treatment of his staff, claiming that the Amazon employees had only paid for the spaceflight due to the poor working conditions they have to endure every day.
She also claimed that Amazon customers helped pay for the spaceflight as the company is able to “abuse their market power” to damage other small businesses.
Other critics of Bezos included Representative Katherine Clark, Representative Adam Schiff, and Stars & Stripes journalist David Choi.
Bezos stepped down from his position of CEO at Amazon in July, weeks before his company, “Blue Origins,” launched their first mission into space.
The billionaire stated that he created the company by selling $1 billion worth of Amazon stock every year for the past few years.
The rocket, named The New Shepard, was launched from a remote area in the state of Texas, exactly 52 years after the landmark launch of the Apollo 11 mission.
Bezos stated that this date was chosen due to its historical significance, and he refused to move it forward after Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson moved his space launch forward, beating Bezos into space by 9 days.
Bezos’ rocket was completely automated, so no official flight staff was needed for the short, 10-minute trip.
The Blue Origin flight reached an altitude of 66 miles from the ground, 10 more miles than what was achieved by Virgin Galactic 9 days earlier.
Passengers on the flight enjoyed a few minutes of gravity-free travel, before returning to the ground.
Those onboard included the former Amazon CEO, his brother Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen.
Funk became the eldest crew member to travel to space, whilst Daemen became the youngest.