The story just got a whole lot more exciting: not only will Jeff Bezos be making his first trip into space next month, but a mystery bidder will now be accompanying him and his brother on the landmark flight.
The Amazon founder announced his trip onboard his rocket company Blue Origin’s New Shephard spaceship last week, but the real stars of the announcement are the anonymous buyer of the third ticket onboard the 11-minute flight - his or her identity is yet to be announced - and another balding space enthusiast named Bezos: Jeff’s younger (taller) brother Mark, five years his junior, who will be accompanying him on the mission.
“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Jeff, 57, wrote in an Instagram post to his 2.9 million followers yesterday. “On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”
The billionaire tech mogul has long spoken of his close relationship with his youngest sibling (they also have a middle sister called Christina and Jeff once called Mark the “funniest guy in [his] life”). But Mark’s recruitment for the mission is unlikely to solely come down to their shared history and sense of humour.
The 53-year-old father of four is also a successful businessman, marathon-runner and volunteer firefighter who has spoken in the past of wanting to make a difference in the world through small acts of kindness and generosity.
Next month’s mission is likely to be his biggest act yet. The launch will be Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight and is set to take place in a rocket-and-capsule combo designed to autonomously fly six passengers more than 62 miles above Earth - high enough to experience several minutes of weightlessness and observe the curvature of the planet before returning. The capsule’s six observation windows will be the largest ever used in space and Mark has called it a “remarkable opportunity” in an announcement video alongside his brother.
So what is Mark’s background and why has his billionaire brother chosen him as his wingman for his landmark journey into space? From his history of heroism to their shared sense of humour (and fashion), this is what we know about the other Bezos brother.
Who is Mark Bezos?
His older brother might be on track to become the world’s first trillionaire, but the youngest of the Bezos siblings certainly has plenty to boast about at the family dinner table, too. Mark currently owns his own private equity firm in New York and has juggled this with his job as a volunteer firefighter in Scarsdale, the upmarket New York neighbourhood a short train ride outside Manhattan where he lives with his wife and their four children.
According to reports, the 53-year-old’s upbringing was very similar to his siblings. All three of the Bezos clan were brought up in Texas and spent many summers on their grandparents’ cattle ranch there, but they also moved around a lot as children, spending time in Houston, Florida, Pensacola and Albuquerque. Jeff went on to study at Princeton while Mark graduated from high school in Norway, according to an interview with Wagmag in 2016.
That same interview reveals he met his wife Lisa in New York, where he spent many years working as an advertising executive, founding and selling his own marketing agency, before taking an executive position as head of communications at Robin Hood, a poverty-fighting charity there.
He now runs his own private equity company in New York called HighPost Capital and “serves on the boards of multiple technology companies and as a director of the Bezos Family Foundation”, according to LinkedIn. On his profile, he describes himself as “an innovator, investor, and pioneer in brand development, customer experience, and social enterprise.”
But by far one of the most reported details of Mark Bezos’ life is his work as a firefighter. For 15 years, the 53-year-old volunteered for the Scarsdale Fire Department in his hometown in Westchestser County, New York, and he’s even done a TED Talk about it. The speech, titled ‘A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter’ and viewed more than three million times, hears him talk about “an act of heroism that didn’t go quite as expected” as he recounts a humorous story about having to retrieve shoes for a woman whose house was on fire.
The job didn’t seem too glamorous at the time but Mark says the woman’s appreciation taught him the importance of small acts of kindness and one big lesson: “Don’t wait to be a hero”. Clearly, he didn’t want to wait for his brother to become a space hero first.
Who are Mark Bezos’s family?
Mark reportedly lives with his wife Lisa and their four children, though few details are known about who they are or what they do. The family have spent many years living in Scarsdale, a posh community just 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan boasting “stellar public schools and luxurious parks and pools,” according to the New York Times.
The youngest Bezos brother served as a volunteer firefighter there for over a decade and has reportedly caused house prices in the area to rocket since buying in the neighbourhood, though there are suggestions he and the family might have moved during the pandemic. Last year it was revealed he was selling his four-acre estate for $11 million.
The property has been described as “one of the most beautiful homes in Scarsdale”, featuring a main six-bedroom, four-bathroom house plus a four-bedroom, four-bathroom guesthouse. Luxury features include a home cinema, gym, spa, pool with a waterslide, wine cellar, atrium and games room with its own golf simulator.
What’s his relationship like with his brother Jeff?
The announcement said it all: when Jeff Bezos announced the mission on Instagram, he called the trip “the greatest adventure, with my best friend”.
It is clear the pair have been BFFs for a while now. Jeff has previously called his brother the “funniest guy in my life”, describing how they drink bourbon together and he “just laugh[s] continuously”. According to the Seattle Times, Jeff turned up at Mark’s first marathon in New York, jogging the final mile with him for moral support, and the pair have appeared together publicly, too.
When Mark interviewed Jeff on stage at a Summit leadership event in 2017, they exhibited a similar dress sense, both wearing blue jeans, leather shoes and tight, dark polo shirts, and Mark joked that he was the brother with the “smaller bank account” if anyone gets confused.
“When your brother is all of a sudden one of these people who are being recognized, you look at him and try to imagine you’re seeing him for the first time,” he once said in an interview with the Seattle Times. “(He’s) Jeff Bezos, the guy who started Amazon, as opposed to Jeff Bezos, the guy who used to make you tickle his feet.”
Now, his older brother is about to become the guy who took him into space, too. Mark says he was “awestruck” when Jeff asked him to come on the Blue Origin mission next month. “What a remarkable opportunity,” he said in the video announcing the flight. “Not only to have this adventure, but to be able to do it with my best friend.”
With the news of the mystery additional space cadet, let’s just hope three’s not a crowd.