So Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post, transferring ownership of the newspaper from one century, and one kind of coastal wealth, to another. And, on Twitter, after the "Whoa!" reactions died down, and the various financial justifications filtered out, and the questions about his political stewardship of paper went unanswered, another kind of Bezosalia began to circulate...
...namely, all the weird stuff Jeff Bezos owns.
Oh, yes, he founded and still serves as the CEO of Amazon.com, the retail behemoth that began selling books and now sells almost everything: Web hosting (to both Instagram and the NSA), tablets of its own design, magenta and green carriers for your pet ferret. But he also founds or invests in ventures of a more eclectic interest, including:
- Business Insider, an aggregator and finance news site founded by Henry Blodget. Bezos invested $5 million in BI earlier this year. According to the Post's Andrea Peterson, BI has upped its reporting game since.
- Blue Origin, a private company which hopes to lower the cost and improve the reliability of manned spaceflight. Blue Origin unveiled its prototype, a gumdrop-shaped spacecraft, Goddard, in 2007, and crashed it (by accident) in 2011. Its staff includes rocket scientists and it tinkers away in Texas.
- The Long Now Foundation, a non-profit which famously hopes to build a clock -- a big mechanical one -- that fulfills the inventor Danny Hill's dream:
"I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every 100 years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years."Hill joined Stewart Brand (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog) to form the Long Now foundation, into which Bezos has invested "at least $42 million," according to a Wall Street Journal report last year. So far, the Long Now Foundation has drilled into the side of a mountain in Texas.
- Recovering, from the seafloor, the rocket engines that took Apollo 11 to the moon. In April, Bezos led a team of deep sea divers to photograph the engines "in situ" and recover some of the most important chunks of ex-rocket. "We want this hardware to tell its true story, including its 5,000-mile-per-hour re-entry and subsequent impact with the ocean surface," he told the LA Times.