Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin was founded way back in 2000, almost two years before Elon Musk's SpaceX. In the years since, SpaceX has reached the stars and completed multi-day trips. However, the Bezos company has remained mostly grounded.
Earlier this year, Blue Origin finally sent a rocket into space with CEO Jeff Bezos on board. Later this month, the company's second launch will take Star Trek actor William Shatner into space as well. Despite this, they're still far behind SpaceX.
Blue Origin is copying SpaceX
In a collection of leaked documents acquired by ArsTechnica, its revealed that Bezos’ space company is copying its competitor. An internal document sees one employee admitting: “Blue is kind of lazy compared to SpaceX.”
Afterwards, Blue Origin hired competitor analysis company Avascent to “assess SpaceX’s strengths and weaknesses”. Essentially, the Bezos company used this information to copy their competitors’ work structure.
For starters, it took until the investigation for the company to focus on consumers. Until then, the company “view[ed] the customer as a nuisance”. Additionally, the company didn't rely on “cost constraint” to create affordable, sellable products. In comparison, SpaceX orders over $10,000 had to be confirmed by CEO Elon Musk.
Blue Origin's bizarre way of creating resulted in a company “is riddled with poor estimating”. An executive exclaimed: “The estimates barely cover the spot cost buy of that material based on market price, let alone the entire part material purchase. How did SpaceX keep to their target cost? They probably did a good job estimating”. However, they didn't mention the fact that SpaceX works through government contracts.
Crunch, churn and burn
ArsTechnica reports that Blue Origin also changed the way it hires in the wake of SpaceX’s success. Initially, the company was “extremely picky with our intern and new grad programs accepting only 1.7 percent of applications”. On the other hand, SpaceX was frequently hiring young engineers to fill its ranks.
As a result, the company changed its hiring process to imitate SpaceX. The company would hire more young engineers and push them into longer work schedules. This was part of an initiative to “get more out of... employees”. One executive said:
“The lack of effort over weekends to meet deadlines is not a culture I am accustomed to in an operations outfit. I realize that development is somewhat different but regardless SpaceX expects and gets more out of their employees."
Nowadays, Blue Origin is a reportedly horrid work environment. A recent letter from 21 current and former employees complained about the hostile work environment rife with sexism. Allegedly, the Bezos-owned company makes unsafe rockets due to its tight cost restraints.