By as early as the fall of 2016, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had already started to worry deeply about the progress—or lack thereof—being made by his rocket company, Blue Origin.
Although the business had begun to successfully launch its suborbital vehicle, New Shepard, Bezos watched with increasing envy as SpaceX landed its much larger Falcon 9 rocket on ocean-based drone ships. He saw, too, this surging new-space competitor winning launch contract after contract from NASA and the US Department of Defense.
And so, in response, Bezos invited a succession of executives from Blue Origin to his office in Seattle for one-on-one lunches. During these meetings, the executives complained about poor internal communication, long meetings, and questionable spending decisions. One engineer described the company as a Potemkin village—with a dysfunctional culture concealed beneath an industrious façade.