Hello Mars — Jeff Bezos’ business is officially interplanetary

February 10, 2023, 6:14 PM UTC
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.
Matthew Staver—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Hi, it’s Fortune Tech Fellow Andrea Guzman bringing today’s Data Sheet to you.

The tech mogul space race is heating up, with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk each notching victories this week.

Blue Origin, the private space company founded by Bezos, announced on Thursday that it won a contract from NASA that will send it on a mission to Mars.

Blue Origin’s rocket will head for Mars’ orbit to measure magnetic fields. The interplanetary contract is a first for Blue Origin, whose New Glenn vehicle has yet to launch and is competing against vehicles being developed by Musk’s SpaceX. On Wednesday, SpaceX successfully fired up 31 of the 33 engines on the Super Heavy booster in a critical test that bodes well for the Starship the company hopes will one day carry people to Mars.

Last week, Fortune’s Tristan Bove positioned Elon Musk as the man in the lead of the private space business, noting that in 2021, SpaceX beat out competition from Blue Origin to secure a $2.9 billion government contract to fly NASA astronauts to the moon with its Starship rocket by 2025. 

“Because of Starship’s reusability and powerful engines, SpaceX could dominate space exploration for decades to come,” Bove wrote.

Blue Origin’s bet to rival SpaceX and others is with New Glenn, a vehicle that has hit snags in recent years with a launch date.  

Its first launch was scheduled for 2020 and got pushed back to the following year, then delayed again to 2022. In late March last year, Blue Origin’s SVP for New Glenn said it wouldn’t happen by the year’s end. This time around, it’s aiming for a late 2024 departure from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida with NASA’s dual-spacecraft ESCAPADE mission.  

The value of the contract is unclear. Reuters reports that NASA called that information proprietary and Blue Origin declined to discuss financial details. 

But Blue Origin is part of an initiative known as the Venture-class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare missions program, where NASA assigns its lower-cost missions to rockets that don’t have a proven track record. Under that program, 13 companies are splitting $300 million for a variety of noncritical missions. 

“These small satellites and Class D payloads tolerate relatively high risk and serve as an ideal platform for technical and architecture innovation,” NASA said when announcing the award.  

So, NASA’s prepared for the risk. If all goes well, New Glenn will spend 11 months traveling to Mars and a few more months after that gathering information. 

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Andrea Guzman


Hubbers are laid off. GitHub is eliminating 10% of staff as layoffs hit the Microsoft-owned platform developer. CEO Thomas Dohmke announced the move in a message to staff on Thursday where he also mentioned that all of the company’s offices will close at the end of their leases or sooner. GitHub didn’t comment on whether the cuts are part of Microsoft’s layoffs last month but told Fortune that the decision allows the chance for it to invest in a long-term strategy.

Dot-Com Thrones finds a new home. When tech companies lay off workers and get rid of office space, the furniture that was once used by employees has to go somewhere. Vice’s Motherboard reports on an enterprising father-son duo in New York who have carved out a lucrative business moving Herman Miller office chairs out of tech company offices. The pair get chairs, desks, and other furniture at low costs—or even for free—from ailing tech companies and then sell the items individually via Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Amazon. 

Balloon watch. On Thursday, the Biden administration said the China balloon that the U.S. shot down last weekend featured high-tech equipment used for spying. Biden assured the public it wasn’t a major breach, but still a violation of international law. Meanwhile, China has denied the claim that it was spying and said the U.S. was overreacting when it shot down the balloon.  

Dan Schulman’s tenure comes to an end. After about a decade with PayPal, its CEO has decided to step down by the end of the year. The move was announced during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report, though a replacement hasn’t been named. Regardless, Schulman says he’s confident in PayPal’s ability to remain a market leader in digital payments.


Is the grass greener on the other side? People quit their jobs in droves in 2021 seeking better pay or work culture. While it seemed like a good idea at the time for many, some workers are now regretting their decision, particularly Gen Z. The doubt over job hopping can be pinned on a variety of factors, such as missing former coworkers, monetary motivations, and remote work options. 

From the article

Of course, not all those who left their roles did so as part of the ‘Great Resignation’, as many were buffeted by pandemic factors which left them without choice.

Yet for those who did jump ship for better pay and work-life balance, the vast majority admitted they still want their old roles back.


Microsoft’s CEO says A.I. could help humanity create a ‘utopia’ while warning that ‘runaway AI’ could be a big problem, by Tristan Bove

Investors are still trusting anonymous crypto founders with millions—even after the FTX meltdown, by Jessica Klein

‘We’re not seeing any signs of consumer weakness’: Uber’s CEO says the company’s strong quarter shows how people are spending their money very differently from a year ago, by Tristan Bove

DJ David Guetta used Eminem in a set and ‘people went nuts’—but A.I. generated the rapper’s voice and lyrics and that sparked some thorny questions, by Steve Mollman

Apple cofounder Wozniak takes aim at ‘dishonest’ Elon Musk for misleading Tesla buyers: ‘They robbed my family of so much money’, by Christiaan Hetzner

Elon Musk reportedly fires top Twitter engineer for sharing an uncomfortable truth: People just aren’t that interested in his antics anymore, by Nicholas Gordan

ChatGPT creator aims jab at ‘lethargic’ Google as the tech giant’s A.I. war with Microsoft heats up, by Chloe Taylor


Move over Doc Martens. A pair of bulky red rubber boots resembling those worn by Ronald McDonald or the monkey in Dora the Explorer are in high demand after the brand MSCHF sent a few pairs to social media influencers. The hype has reached such a level that the $350 boots, which go on sale next week, are listing a resale value of $1,789. Memes and videos have hit fashion TikTok where users struggle to remove the boots or practice styling them with clothes. Even if influencers don’t talk you into this purchase, there are others they may sway you on. Looking at a recent study about the power influencers have on consumers, Forbes notes that 66% of people say their purchases are often driven by influencers and 64% say that influencers help them find new brands.

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