Richard branson

What Jeff Bezos should have learnt from Neil Armstrong

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos joined the billionaire space race today in his suitably phallic looking New Shepard rocket. Bezos successfully travelled to just beyond the Karman Line: the official boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and the rest of the universe. So what sage words did the billionaire have for the rest of us as he looked out of the window at a sight that only 556 other humans have had the privilege to witness? A philosophical thought perhaps? A rumination on our planet’s beauty or fragility? Or maybe an assertion of mankind’s technical prowess? Alas, we were given none of this. According to the entrepreneur, as he descended on a rocket-powered

Branson vs Bezos: In praise of the billionaire space race

They are rich boys with some very expensive toys. As Richard Branson completes his first space flight, it would be easy to dismiss the race between the Virgin founder and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to be the first billionaire in space as the self-indulgence of a couple of tycoons with too much testosterone and too much money.  The competition will be seen by some on the liberal left as a symbol of widening inequalities. They will view it as the emergence of a plutocratic class separated from the rest of us, and as proof of the argument that space should be left to the public sphere. Of course there is an element of

In defence of Amazon

We should take heart from BP’s £5.1 billion second-quarter loss, accompanied by a halving of its dividend. What’s good about that? Nothing — except that the loss reflects a write-down of the value of oil and gas assets that shifts the company to a more realistic footing for an extended period of low oil prices and reduced demand, indicating resilience rather than impending doom. In recent times, BP has lived through Deepwater Horizon, history’s most politicised oil-rig disaster, and extricated itself from TNK-BP, history’s nastiest Russian joint-venture. It operated when oil was below $20 a barrel in 2001 and when it hit $147 in 2008. It has plans to achieve

It’s mavericks like Elon Musk who’ll get us through this crisis

This month’s most significant corporate deal attracted less attention than it might have done in normal times, crowded out by grim news elsewhere. It is the proposed £31 billion merger of O2 and Virgin Media to create a telecoms giant with 46 million customers. Following BT’s 2016 acquisition of the mobile operator EE, further ‘convergence’ in the sector had been expected, but the mid-lockdown timing was spun as a vote of confidence in the UK, described as ‘one of the most attractive markets on Earth’ by José María Alvarez–Pallete, chief executive of Telefónica of Spain, which owns O2. Investment of £10 billion in the new group’s mobile, broadband and television

Bailing out Richard Branson comes with a big price

Richard Branson is asking British taxpayers – a club he resigned from when he moved his affairs to the lax tax regime of the Virgin Islands – to bail him out. With an estimated fortune of £4.7 billion, he is richer than any man needs to be. Yet he still wants a country – whose health and emergency services his taxes are not supporting in their moment of greatest need – to lend the Virgin Atlantic airline £500 million. The government has rejected Virgin Atlantic’s advances to date, but not for reasons you and I would cite. The Financial Times reports that officials turned down the airline’s initial bid because