Trump, Thiel and space travel: Three things we learned from Amazon's Jeff Bezos

Lynsey Barber
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Founder And CEO Of Amazon Jeff Bezos Speaks On Advances In Artificial Intelligence
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has spoken candidly about free speech (Source: Getty)

One of the most successful entrepreneurs of the modern world, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has spoken candidly on pressing issues such as Donald Trump, Peter Thiel versus Gawker and freedom of speech, as well as his childhood passion for space travel.

Here are the three things we learned from his talk at Recode's Code Conference in California...

Bezos on... space

While Britain may be worried about the loss of heavy industry such as steel from its shores, Bezos believes this should leave the planet entirely. He has suggested that moving it to space - perhaps settling on Mars - would be best, leaving the earth to be "rezoned" for living and shopping.

“I don’t want Plan B to be Earth. I want Plan B to make sure that Plan A works. And let me assure you, this is the best planet. And we will protect it. The way we will protect it is by going out into space," he said.

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He may be most famous for founding online giant Amazon, and more recently for buying the Washington Post, but the entrepreneur is making his own way into commercial space flight alongside the likes of Elon Musk and Richard Branson, with his Blue Origin space project.

“You don’t choose your passions, your passions choose you. I’ve been passionate about rockets and space since I was a five-year-old boy.”

Bezos on... Peter Thiel, Gawker and free speech

One of very few people in the world who is both a media owner and a tech entrepreneur, Bezos presents a unique perspective on the Peter Thiel/Gawker debate.

For anyone who missed it, Paypal founder and entrepreneur Thiel was revealed as one of the backers of a high profile lawsuit against US media company Gawker. The secret funding of the case brought my Hulk Hogan over a leaked sex tape and which resulted in a pay out of $140m (£96.6m) that could result in the company being sold, is widely seen as a revenge move after the website outed Thiel in 2007.

"If you absolutely can't tolerate critics, than don't do anything new or interestng."

- Jeff Bezos


"Do you think someone who happens to be a billionaire, ought to to be able to fund a series of lawsuits, regardless of their merit, whose real purpose is to put that company out of business ad destroy them for personal reasons?" Bezos was asked by Walt Mossberg.

"I don't," said Bezos. "I'll talk about some of the principles, in my mind, that I think apply here."

"Seek revenge and you should dig two graves, one for yourself," he continued.

"You always heave to ask yourself, how do you want to spend your time and your energy? And do you really want to do that righting a wrong? Even if it's a legitimate wrong. I don't think so. Most people, they take a step back, they would say, 'I'm going to go on and say great things'.

"The best defence against speech that you don't like against yourself as a public figure, is to develop a thick skin," he said. "If you're doing anything interesting in the world, you're going to have critics. If you absolutely can't tolerate critics, than don't do anything new or interesting."

Read more: Three things we learned about Apple from Tim Cook

Watch the full clip below.

Bezos on... Donald Trump

Ah yes, the Trump. The Presidential hopeful may have got the backing of North Korean leader Kim Jon-Un, but Bezos certainly does not follow that track.

"One thing that I think Donald Trump is doing that is not appropriate, working to freeze or chill the media that are examining him," he said.

"We live in a world where half the population on this planet if you criticise your leader, there's a good chance you'll go to prison, or worse. We live in this amazing democracy, with amazing freedom of speech and a Presidential candidate should embrace that. They should say, 'I'm running for President of the most important country in the world, I expect to be scrutinised, please examine me'."

It's not the first time he has hinted at his feelings toward Trump. Late last year, Amazon revealed that its Alexa virtual assistant responded to "Alexa, send Donald Trump to space," with "I think Jeff Bezos reserved him a seat on his Blue Origin rocket".