Jeff Bezos’s private space venture Blue Origin is an environment rife with “systemic” incidents of misogyny, sexism, and workplace toxicity, according to a jarring report in Monday’s Washington Post, which is also owned by Bezos.
Over the last few years, Blue Origin’s “culture had become dysfunctional, resulting in low morale and high turnover, significant delays across several major programs, and a failure to successfully compete with Elon Musk’s venture SpaceX, current and former employees said,” the Post reported.
“The new management’s ‘authoritarian bro culture,’ as one former employee put it, affected how decisions were made and permeated the institution, translating into condescending, sometimes humiliating, comments and harassment toward some women and a stagnant top-down hierarchy that frustrated many employees,” the exposé revealed.
“This account is based on interviews with more than 20 current and former Blue Origin employees and industry officials with close ties to the firm, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. The interviews and documents obtained by the Post reveal wide-ranging employee concerns about Smith’s leadership style, a bureaucracy that hampered innovation, and a lack of intervention from Bezos, who employees said was not giving the company enough attention during a crucial period,” the paper wrote.
One of the biggest problems is a lack of comradery between employees and management.
“It’s bad. I think it’s a complete lack of trust. Leadership has not engendered any trust in the employee base,” one former executive told the Post.
“The C-suite is out of touch with the rank-and-file pretty severely. It’s very dysfunctional. It’s condescending. It’s demoralizing, and what happens is we can’t make progress and end up with huge delays,” said another.
Turmoil in Bezos’s personal life likely played a large role in the collapse of worker morale.
“Jeff got divorced and he was distracted,” an ex-executive recalled. “Blue’s workforce was going up and his net worth was going up, and there were a lot of things on his plate, like the climate fund that he wanted to do. Combined with his personal life … that gave Bob an opportunity to really turn Blue upside down. He was CEO, so Jeff gave him a lot of rope.”
Bezos also appeared distant and detached when he would show up to meet with his team on Wednesdays.
The visits “could be ‘extremely disruptive,’ a former executive said. Engineers at the company would pitch him ideas, and he would say they were good ones. Then, armed with Bezos’s tacit approval, they would try to make them reality,” the Post learned.
“Jeff may have liked the idea, but guess what? We didn’t budget for it. It’s not in the schedule. It’s not in the design,” one person who attended those meetings recollected. “He just said he liked an idea.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.