Former SpaceX engineer says she was sexually harassed and ‘misogyny is rampant’ at Elon Musk’s rocket company

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule on the launch pad in Florida.
A SpaceX rocket and capsule at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in early November.

  • A former SpaceX engineer published an essay claiming the company is “rife with sexism.”
  • Former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak said she experienced sexual harassment from colleagues.
  • SpaceX and Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

A former SpaceX engineer published an essay on Tuesday accusing Elon Musk’s rocket company of fostering an environment “rife with sexism.”

Ashley Kosak, a former Mission Integration Engineer at the space company, said she faced sexual harassment while employed by SpaceX and that supervisors and human resources officials failed to adequately address the alleged incidents.

On Tuesday, The Verge reported that four more former employees said they had experienced or witnessed sexual harassment while at SpaceX. In three of the alleged cases, the former workers told the publication that they did not feel HR’s response was adequate.

A SpaceX spokesperson, as well as the company’s CEO, Musk, did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.

In the essay, Kosak, who said she started working at SpaceX in 2017 as an intern and became an engineer in 2019, alleged that a fellow intern grabbed her backside while she was in the kitchen of the intern housing unit where they were both staying. She said she told a superior and another co-worker.

Kosak also said that in 2018 “a male colleague ran his hand over my shirt, from my lower waist to my chest” at a team-bonding event while she was an intern. She said she told her supervisors and reported the alleged behavior to HR in a meeting “but no one followed up,” leaving her to feel “powerless.”

“Some of the men who work at SpaceX hug women without consent, stare at women while they work, and interpret every company-related social event as an opportunity to date (or hit on) women in the office,” Kosak wrote.

She said that coworkers messaged her on Instagram to ask her out and that she once received a 4 a.m. call from a coworker. She said a different coworker came over to her house and “insisted on touching me even when I repeatedly requested we stay professional.”

Kosak said in the essay that she reported “each incident of sexual harassment I experienced to HR” but “nothing was done.” She said that she was told a company training would be held, but that “matters of this nature were too private to openly discuss with the perpetrators.”

Kosak said in the essay that she attributes the work environment at SpaceX to Musk’s leadership.

“Elon Musk’s behavior bears a remarkable similarity to the behavior of a sadistic and abusive man who had previously been part of my life,” Kosak wrote, saying Musk makes promises, but continually “shifts the goalpost” and pushes people to “the brink of burnout.”

“Elon uses engineers as a resource to be mined rather than a team to be led,” Kosak said in the essay.

The engineer said that after repeatedly making reports to HR, she submitted her complaints to an anonymous Ethics and Compliance tipline, which she said she later realized was a Microsoft form that did not preserve her anonymity. Kosak said she then met with COO Gwynne Shotwell and Head of HR Brian Bjelde, who she said told her they had not been made aware of her complaints and asked for her to submit a list of proposed solutions.

Shotwell and Bjelde did not respond to a request for comment from Insider, but The Verge obtained an email that was sent out by Shotwell over the weekend, reiterating the company’s stance against harassment. The COO reportedly said the company plans to perform a third-party audit of its HR practices.

“We also know we can always do better,” the email reportedly said.

Kosak said her psychiatrist eventually recommended she take a step back from work due to “frequent panic attacks” and “heart palpitations.”

“As I took a week’s medical leave to recover, I received a frantic cadence of calls from HR,” she wrote. 

Kosak resigned in November and has since begun working at Apple, according to her LinkedIn page.

Kosak is not the first person to express concern regarding the work environment at Musk’s companies. Last year, a former SpaceX intern filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company, alleging her decision to report alleged sexual harassment to HR cost her the opportunity for a full-time job. The lawsuit has since been privately resolved and dismissed, The Verge reports.

Over the past four weeks, eight Tesla factory workers have sued Musk’s electric car company, alleging Tesla ignored sexual harassment.

The former SpaceX engineer’s essay also comes only a few months after engineers at Jeff Bezos’ space venture, Blue Origin, expressed similar concerns, alleging the company had a “toxic” and “sexist” work culture.

“The last I heard, new SpaceX interns would receive training on how to better report their harassment,” Kosak wrote in the last lines of her essay. “The harassers, on the other hand, have still not been held to account.”

Do you work at SpaceX or Blue Origin? Reach out to the reporter from a non-work email at gkay@insider.com

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I tried Jeff Bezos’ morning routine of puttering around. It helped me be more organized, relaxed, and enjoy my work more.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos.

  • Jeff Bezos wakes up early and spends his mornings “puttering.” His first meeting is at 10 a.m. 
  • He previously said that routine and eight hours’ sleep a night gives him energy to think better. 
  • I tried it for a few mornings. I felt more relaxed and organized, which made me better at my job.

It might surprise you to learn how one of the world’s richest men spends his morning. 

Jeff Bezos said he likes to spend it “puttering.” He once said in a 2018 speech at the Washington Economic club that he wakes up early, reads the newspaper, drinks coffee, and has breakfast with his children. His first meeting is at 10 a.m.

Offering more insight into his morning routine, Bezos said in the speech: “My puttering time is important to me.” Along with getting eight hours of sleep a night, he said it gave him energy and helped his decision-making

There have been countless books and studies exploring the benefits that can be wrought by slowing down and learning to take more time for yourself. It’s no secret that doing stuff that makes you feel happy and more relaxed could have a knock-on effect on your performance at work.

I’ve started to feel like my relationship with work is becoming unhealthy. I’m six months into a new job and eager to impress. I’ve found myself starting early and working late into the evening.

I often feel quite tired and find it hard to switch between tasks. I’ve stopped doing things I enjoy, like reading or playing my guitar as much as I used to and constantly feel like I’m putting off important life admin. Perhaps, approaching my mornings differently could help me find a better balance. 

This meant more a mindset change than anything else. Rather than rushing to sit down and get to work at 7.30 a.m. or 8 a.m., I took it a bit slower and made sure I actually did things for myself before starting my day. 

I’ve written enough about productivity in the past and the hacks associated with the likes of Elon Musk, Tony Hsieh, and Eric Schmidt to know that every individual works differently, and they need to fit your own routine. 

On the first day, it was cold and I woke up several times during the night, so I prioritized getting a few extra hours of sleep in the morning. Then I went for a walk around the block and didn’t worry about sitting down to start work too quickly. 

Other mornings, I woke up earlier and spent time washing up, reading, sorting urgent household bills, or just going for a longer morning walk. I’d start thinking about work at around 8 a.m. — browsing the news and roughly planning my day — while doing other things. But I didn’t properly sit down until nearer 9 a.m. My first meeting was at 10 a.m. 

Looking back, at the end of the week, I definitely feel more organized. I had time to think and properly plan my day. I also felt more relaxed and generally less distracted during the work day because I was able to deal with any pressing life admin early on.

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be more productive and doesn’t remove the pressing deadlines that come up at work, but I felt like it set me up better for the day, and I certainly didn’t feel less productive. 

Now, there are some caveats. 

It’s not possible to putter every day because sometimes there are just busy periods. This is something Bezos referred to when he said he doesn’t believe in work-life balance, but instead a “work-life harmony.”

It’s also not hard to see how the temptation to putter too much could seep into the rest of the work day. It required discipline to pull myself from the sofa and work. Working from home inevitably helped though. 

On a more, broader point, not everyone has the luxury of being able to slow down. I’m lucky that I have a job that enables me to have relative control over my day; I have no caring responsibilities and an editor who gives me the freedom to putter around for the sake of a productivity feature.

Sadly, not everyone is blessed with understanding managers or job security.

Hopefully, though it can serve as a wider lesson, though: that it’s OK to try and take more time for yourself.

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Jeff Bezos criticized for celebrating Blue Origin launch before addressing Amazon warehouse collapse

Jeff Bezos wearing cowboy hat and space suit at Blue Origin rocket launch
Jeff Bezos.

  • Jeff Bezos faced criticism over his response to the deadly Amazon warehouse collapse. 
  • He posted a photo on Instagram of Blue Origin space passengers in the aftermath of the incident.
  • Several hours later, he acknowledged the disaster, which he described as “tragic.”

Jeff Bezos has come under fire for a late response to the deadly Amazon warehouse collapse that occurred on Friday night in severe weather conditions.

Insider’s Bethany Dawson and Kelsey Vlamis reported that at least six workers died and an unknown number are missing after the incident in Edwardsville, Illinois.

As the situation unfolded, Bezos was celebrating the third launch of Blue Origin’s human spaceflight, which successfully flew six passengers to the edge of space and back.

He posted a photo on Instagram of the six-member crew smiling before they flew to space. “Happy crew this morning in the training center…” Bezos captioned the post.

Several hours later, the Amazon founder then tweeted: “The news from Edwardsville is tragic. We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones.”

He added: “All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis.” 

Amazon and Jeff Bezos did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

But some commentators voiced anger over his response.

“SHAME ON JEFF BEZOS!!! He was in West TEXAS today! His employees lives were lost!” one person tweeted

Another Twitter user said: “Really struggling with my rage since Jeff Bezos blasted his major carbon polluting rocket this morning after Amazon workers died in a rare December tornado last night.”

At least 70 people are feared dead in Kentucky, following the overnight tornado. The death toll from the extreme weather could ultimately exceed 100 people, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said during a press conference Saturday morning.

 

 

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Blue Origin launches 6 passengers to the edge of outer space, including ‘Good Morning America’ anchor Michael Strahan and the daughter of the first American to fly to space

Michael Strahan next to image of Blue Origin rocket launching into the sky
Co-anchor Michael Strahan and five other passengers to the edge of outer space on Saturday in its third successful human flight.

  • Blue Origin launched 6 passengers to the edge of space on the company’s New Shepard rocket.
  • TV celebrity Michael Strahan and the eldest daughter of the first American to fly to space were among the passengers. 
  • The New Shepard rocket took off from Launch Site One, situated on a parcel of land in West Texas owned by Bezos.

Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, launched ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan and five other passengers to the edge of outer space on Saturday in its third successful human flight.

Among the passengers making the suborbital flight was Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of the US astronaut Alan Shepard. The company’s New Shepard rocket is named after Shepard, the first American to fly to space and the fifth person to walk on the moon.

The four other passengers were paying customers: the space-industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, the investor Evan Dick, Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess, and the content creator Cameron Bess.

Lane and Cameron Bess were the first parent-child duo to fly in space, Blue Origin said.

The New Shepard rocket took off from Launch Site One, situated on a parcel of land in West Texas owned by Bezos. The six space tourists experienced a few minutes of weightlessness 62 miles above Earth, widely considered the edge of space, before floating back to Earth in a pressurized capsule that detaches from the rocket.

“And, capsule touchdown! Welcome back to Earth, crew of #NS19. Laura, Michael, Evan, Dylan, Cameron, and Lane,” Blue Origin tweeted as the passengers made their safe return. 

“What an amazing mission from Launch Site One. Congrats to all of Team Blue on executing and supporting today’s flight,” the company also tweeted. 

Blue Origin has not commented on the price of tickets for its latest launch. A seat on New Shepard for the company’s first human flight brought in $28 million in an auction in June.

When the latest passenger roster was announced, Shepard Churchley quipped in a Blue Origin Twitter video that “an original Shepard will fly on the New Shepard.”

Strahan, who was also a former NFL football star, said in a “GMA” clip posted on Twitter that he said yes “without hesitation” when Blue Origin approached him.

A previous flight carried the “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and three other passengers. The passengers on the company’s first human spaceflight consisted of Bezos, his brother, the 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen, a Dutch teen.

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The FAA is giving Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and other private spaceflight passengers official ‘astronaut wings’ before discontinuing the honor

split image richard branson smiling jeff bezos laughing in cowboy hat both wearing blue spacesuits
Richard Branson (left) and Jeff Bezos (right) both flew to the edge of space in July 2021.

Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, William Shatner, and 12 others will be given official “astronaut” wings by the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency announced on Friday. 

The FAA awards its Commercial Astronaut Wings to those who have launched at least 50 miles above the Earth’s surface on an FAA-approved spacecraft.   

The 15 individuals receiving the symbolic honor hail from a SpaceX crew, Blue Origin’s New Shepherd craft, and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, the FAA said in a statement

But this batch of individuals will be the last to hold the accolade, the FAA said. January 1 marks the end of the “wings” program. Space travelers who break the 50-mile barrier will simply have their names listed on an FAA website instead.

All in all, only 24 people will have received the FAA’s commercial astronaut wings.

The news was first reported by CNN.

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Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Jeff Bezos’ bald bromance was on full display at the People’s Choice Awards

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson hugs Jeff Bezos on stage at the People's Choice Awards
  • Jeff Bezos presented Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with an award at the People’s Choice Awards.
  • Bezos cracked jokes about Johnson, including about how being bald is “a good look.” 
  • Johnson called Bezos his “good friend” and “tequila drinking buddy.”

Who’s bald and loves tequila? That’s a trick question — it’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jeff Bezos.

The two moguls, pals, and sometimes-business associates discussed their friendship onstage at the People’s Choice Awards Tuesday night. Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon, presented Johnson with the People’s Champion award, honoring Johnson for his committement to kindness. 

“You see, kindness is a choice, and what I admire most in Dwayne is his choice to show unwavering kindness to everyone around him,” Bezos said onstage. 

But Bezos also cracked a few jokes about Johnson, including about his penchant for taking down stacks of pancakes on “cheat days” and about his main resemblance to Bezos himself. 

“Listen, there are so many ways to describe Dwayne Johnson: larger than life leaps to mind, extraordinarily talented, the ultimate girl dad, strong, handsome, bald,” Bezos said.

He added: “Hey, it’s a good look!”

For his part, Johnson thanked Bezos after accepting the award, calling him his “good friend Jeff, my drinking buddy, my tequila-drinking buddy Jeff.” 

The Bezos-Johnson friendship extends back to at least June, when Johnson posted a photo on Instagram of himself wearing an Amazon polo shirt with his arm around Bezos on a beach. The caption teased an upcoming partnership between Amazon Studios and Seven Bucks Production, the production company founded by Johnson and his manager, Dany Garcia. 

“Shared passions and always putting in the hard work with our own two hands. I look forward to this one, brother,” Johnson wrote, adding that “Teremana is on the way!” in reference to the small-batch tequila company he launched in March 2020.

It was announced soon after that Amazon would develop the Seven Bucks film “Red One,” which is slated for a 2023 release. Amazon won the project after a “highly competitive bidding war,” according to Deadline. Johnson told Deadline at the time that he’s “very bullish on our partnership with Amazon Studios,” and Garcia described it as “a long time in the making.”

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Warren Buffett’s business partner rang the bubble alarm, vowed to never buy crypto, and argued Elon Musk’s overconfidence has fueled the Tesla chief’s success

GettyImages 1140985597
Warren Buffett (left) and Charlie Munger.

  • Warren Buffett’s right-hand man said markets are wilder today than during the dot-com bubble.
  • Charlie Munger blasted crypto, praised Chinese regulators, and backed Costco to take on Amazon.
  • The billionaire investor said Elon Musk’s overconfidence has fueled the Tesla CEO’s success.

Warren Buffett’s 97-year-old business partner warned the current market is wilder than the dot-com bubble, ruled out ever owning cryptocurrencies, and praised China’s ongoing regulatory crackdown at the Sohn Hearts & Minds Conference this month.

Charlie Munger — a billionaire investor and the vice-chairman of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate — also bemoaned the difficulty of finding bargain stocks today, suggested Costco could challenge Amazon in online retail, and argued that Elon Musk’s overconfidence has been critical to his success.

Here are Munger’s 14 best quotes from his virtual interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity. They were first published by Sohn, The Australian, and The Australian Financial Review:

1. “The dot-com boom was crazier in terms of valuations than even what we have now. But overall, I consider this era even crazier than the dot-com era.”

2. “I just can’t stand participating in these insane booms. Everybody wants to pile in, and I have a different attitude. I want to make my money by selling people things that are good for them, not things that are bad for them.”

3. “It’s getting very difficult, because we have a vast increase in the intellectual horsepower that’s trying to get rich by owning securities. They’ve bid the good businesses up and up and up. The great companies come at a high price.”

4. “There’s no great company that can’t be turned into a bad investment just by raising the price.”

5. “I’m never going to buy a cryptocurrency. I wish they’d never been invented.” — Munger has been a vocal critic of crypto for years.

6. “Believe me, the people who are getting in cryptocurrencies are not thinking about the customer, they’re thinking about themselves. Just look at them. I wouldn’t want any one of them to marry into my family.”

7. “The Chinese made the correct decision, which is to simply ban crypto. They’re right to step hard on booms and to not let them go too far. To the extent that my country doesn’t do that, we’re inferior to China.”

8. “I don’t think we’re that smart, I don’t think we’re that diligent. We’ve had more success than our smartness and diligence would normally cause. I attribute that to the fact that we’re better than most people at knowing what we know and what we don’t know.” — reflecting on why he and Buffett have excelled at investing.

9. “Amazon may have more to fear from Costco in terms of retailing than the reverse. Costco will eventually be a huge internet player. People trust it and it has enormous purchasing power.” — Munger is a director and longtime fan of the big-box retailer.

10. “He’s worked very hard, he’s somewhat fanatical, and of course he’s had a remarkable result. He wouldn’t have been so successful if there hadn’t been an internet wave for him to ride. But there was an internet wave and when he saw it, he got aboard, he threw aside everything else in his life, and just headed for the top of that wave. He’s been surfing ever since.” — on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

11. “He thinks he’s even more able than he is and that’s helped him. Never underestimate the man who overestimates himself. Some of the extreme successes are going to come from people who try very extreme things because they’re overconfident. And when they succeed, well, there you get Elon Musk.” — on the Tesla and SpaceX CEO.

12. “Over 100 years, I don’t trust any currency issued in the whole world. It’s natural to reduce the purchasing power of currency. If you’re a government, the best you can hope for is the inflation will be slow.”

13. “I don’t know what they’re like in Australia, but here they’re very peculiar: very self-centered and very leftist.” — on millennials.

14. “Saving the hydrocarbons for future generations, instead of blowing them all in one big blast, is a very smart thing to do, even if there were no global warming. I love the fact we’re rapidly reducing the burning of coal and the burning of gasoline and diesel … and replacing them with electricity from renewable sources.”

Read more: Warren Buffett has a $80 billion headache when stocks and businesses are this expensive. Here’s a look at the investor’s big dilemma — and the unhappy compromise he’s made.

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Jeff Bezos donates over $400 million to help save the planet he blasted off from just months ago

Jeff Bezos laughs wearing a cowboy hat
Jeff Bezos laughs as he speaks about his flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard into space during a press conference on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas.

  • Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund donated $443 million to 44 climate groups on Monday.
  • This is part of his commitment to spend $10 billion by 2030 to fight the climate crisis.
  • Bezos recently used his fortune to send himself to space and has been criticized for focusing too much on space travel.

Jeff Bezos left his fellow humans on Earth for about 15 minutes in July when he shot himself up to the edge of space. But that doesn’t mean he’s leaving his home planet behind.

On Monday, the founder of Amazon announced a $443 million donation to organizations focused on climate justice, nature conservation, and tracking climate goals. Bezos’ organization, the Bezos Earth Fund, wrote in a press release that it awarded 44 grants to organizations that fit that criteria, including $140 million to President Joe Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which helps fight climate change in disadvantaged communities, along with $51 million to support land restoration in the US and Africa.

These grants are part of Bezos’ $10 billion commitment to his Earth Fund to fight climate change — funds of which he promised would be fully disbursed by 2030.

“The goal of the Bezos Earth Fund is to support change agents who are seizing the challenges that this decisive decade presents,” Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, said in a statement. “Through these grants, we are advancing climate justice and the protection of nature, two areas that demand stronger action.”

As the world’s second richest person, Bezos has been using his money to not only fight the climate crisis — his fund gave $791 million to 16 climate organizations last year — but to venture into space. On July 20, Bezos boarded a rocket made by his aerospace company Blue Origin and spent about three minutes in outer space — a form of travel, and way of life, he anticipates will become the norm.

“Over centuries, many people will be born in space. It will be their first home,” Bezos said during a recent conference. “They will be born on these colonies, live on these colonies. Then, they’ll visit Earth the way you would visit, you know, Yellowstone National Park.” 

After his space flight, Bezos also expressed the need to preserve the Earth and move the “polluting industry to space,” adding that his quick trip “reinforces my commitment to climate change, to the environment.”

“We live on this beautiful planet. You can’t imagine how thin the atmosphere is when you see it from space,” Bezos said in July. “We live in it, and it looks so big. It feels like, you know, this atmosphere is huge and we can disregard it and treat it poorly. When you get up there and you see it, you see how tiny it is and how fragile it is.”

The billionaire has been criticized for focusing too much on outer space when there are many pressing problems down here on Earth. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example, recently criticized Bezos for his fixation on space travel while managing to avoid paying his fair share in taxes.

“The richest guy on Earth can launch himself into space while over half the country lives paycheck to paycheck, nearly 43 million are saddled with student debt, and child care costs force millions out of work,” Warren tweeted. “He can afford to pitch in so everyone else gets a chance.” 

But Bezos responded to claims he doesn’t focus enough on pressing issues on Earth, saying at the same conference that those critics miss the fact that “we need to do both, and that the two things are deeply connected.”

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Amazon is making its own shipping containers — and waiting as little as 2 days outside ports

amazon box boxes delivery deliveries
  • Amazon has been making its own shipping containers and chartering its own ships since 2018.
  • Today, Amazon uses its own transportation network for 72% of its shipments.
  • Amazon’s strategy allows it to bypass port delays that can span up to two months.

Amazon has been making its own shipping containers and chartering private ships to avoid major bottlenecks in the supply chain.

While the majority of retailers have been forced to wait for months-on-end with goods trapped at sea, Amazon has been able to bring goods into ports in a matter of days. Ocean freight analyst Steve Ferreira told CNBC that last month an Amazon cargo ship only waited outside a port for two days. Meanwhile, ships at the nation’s largest port have waited for up to two months.

Amazon has been building up its transportation network for years — inadvertently preparing for a supply-chain crisis.

In 2018, the company began making its own 53-foot shipping containers in China. The navy blue containers are embossed with Amazon’s signature arrow logo and travel primarily on ships that are chartered solely for the company.

In its first year, Amazon Logistics shipped over 5,300 containers from Beijing to ports in California and Washington state. Since, Amazon has progressed to the point that it is shipping over 10,000 of its own containers per month and ranks among the top five transportation companies in the Trans Pacific, according to Ferreira.

Since the pandemic started, shipping container prices have surged from under $2,000 to over $20,000. Containers are also in short supply, as port delays tie up millions of shipping containers at sea. The Amazon-made containers ensure the company can prioritize where the containers are needed most without having to send them back to Asia after each delivery.

The e-commerce giant has also chartered its own bulk freighters for several years, a strategy that has come in handy this year. With its own ships, Amazon can easily choose which ports to visit and avoid backlogged ones in favor of smaller ports like the Port of Houston or the Port of Everett in Washington state, CNBC reported.

When Amazon first began building its transportation ecosystem, the company used it to ship less than 47% of its goods. Since, the network has grown to engulf about 72% of Amazon shipments, according to SJ Consulting Group. An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on its transportation strategy.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that Amazon has thrown about $4 billion into side-stepping major shipping delays. The publication noted that Amazon had begun sending out shipments in half-empty trucks to allow for more timely deliveries and brought on about 150,000 more seasonal workers through boosting pay and offering $3,000 signing bonuses.

Other companies like Walmart and Home Depot have followed Amazon’s lead this year. The retailers have pivoted to anything from chartering their own bulk freighters to flying in goods or using smaller ports, but Amazon has an advantage inasmuch as its transportation network has a longer history.

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Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have sold $20 billion of Tesla and Amazon stock this year as insider sales soared to a record high

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
Jeff Bezos (left) and Elon Musk (right) have been selling their companies’ stock.

  • Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have offloaded $20 billion of Tesla and Amazon stock this year.
  • CEOs and insiders have sold a record $69 billion of their own shares, according to Verity data.
  • Executives are selling in part to profit from record high prices, but also to pay taxes.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have sold just shy of $20 billion of their companies’ shares between them so far this year, as stock sales by CEOs and insiders soar to a record high.

Musk has now offloaded $9.9 billion worth of stock in electric-vehicle maker Tesla, after selling a $1.05 billion chunk at the end of November.

Bezos’ sales have been more under the radar. But the Amazon founder and chairman has now shed $10 billion worth of shares in the e-commerce and cloud-computing leader, according to data from Verity that was first reported by CNBC.

The trades by the two multibillionaires have helped push the total for CEO and company-insider sales to a record $69 billion in 2021, even before the year has finished, the data showed.

Sales are up almost one-third compared with last year’s tally, and are almost 80% higher than the 10-year average, according to investment research and data company Verity, previously called InsiderScore.

The Walton family has disposed of $6.2 billion in Walmart stock this year, while Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have each sold roughly $1.5 billion worth of shares in Alphabet. Mark Zuckerberg has sold $4.5 billion of Meta stock.

Most of the stock trades were part of pre-scheduled plans. But Verity said many insiders and CEOs are no doubt cashing in on the dramatic rise in stocks during the pandemic.

The S&P 500 has risen 23% in the year to date, and is up around 95% since the stock-market crash of March 2020, when the pandemic hit. The US benchmark was even higher just a week ago, before the new Omicron coronavirus variant spooked investors.

Tesla stock has climbed 55% so far this year and is up more than 1,100% since that March sell-off as of Wednesday, when it closed at $1,095. Investors are betting that Musk’s company can lead the global green revolution in cars.

“Another factor is the significant increase in the number of public companies over the past few years, thanks to the SPAC craze, and a robust IPO and direct-listing market,” Ben Silverman, director of research at Verity, told Insider.

Company insiders are also selling to cover taxes, Silverman said. Musk in particular faces big tax bills if he exercises stock options that he was awarded in 2012, when Tesla stock traded at around $6.

A good portion of the Tesla CEO’s stock sales so far this year — which began after he posted a Twitter poll asking whether he should offload 10% of his stake in the company — have been to cover taxes after exercising options.

Ark Invest boss Cathie Wood told CNBC Wednesday that Musk “has massive tax bills associated with options and so forth, so he has every right to take profits.”

And venture capital executive Chamath Palihapitiya has said that Musk and Bezos selling stock has made him wonder whether he should also be exiting the market.

“Two entrepreneurs who I’ve considered to be the smartest capital allocators of our generation are taking chips off the table,” Palihapitiya wrote in a recent letter to investors.

He said on his podcast he is “totally confused” about what to do in the market right now, given that assets are at record highs but inflation is rampant.

Read more: A former investment advisor to George Soros finds under-the-radar gems by analyzing the behaviour of corporate insiders. He breaks down the 3 key parts of a strategy that he’s perfected over the last 40 years

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