Business_news Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s bitter rivalry could get a shot in the arm from Amazon’s acquisition of the autonomous-vehicle startup Zoox (AMZN, TSLA)

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  • Amazon announced on Friday an agreement to acquire the autonomous-vehicle startup Zoox.
  • Experts have predicted that Amazon will use Zoox’s technology to eventually deliver packages in self-driving vehicles.
  • But Amazon published a blog post on Friday indicating it is also interested in one day launching a robotaxi service, which would put the retail giant in direct competition with Tesla.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk are already rivals in the rocket industry, and the two have criticized each other’s business practices and ideas in the past.
  • Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it’s like to work there? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com, on Signal at 646-768-4712, or via his encrypted email address mmatousek@protonmail.com.
  • Visit business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon‘sacquisitionof the autonomous-vehicle startupZooxmay amplify the rivalry between the retail giant’s CEO,Jeff Bezos, andElon Musk, the chief executive ofTeslaand SpaceX.

“@JeffBezos is a copy [cat emoji] haha,” Musktweetedon Friday in response to a story about the deal.

Expertshave predicted thatAmazonwill use Zoox’s technology to eventually deliver packages in self-driving vehicles, but ablog postAmazon published on Friday, titled, “We’re acquiring Zoox to help bring their vision of autonomous ride-hailing to reality,” indicates the retail giant is also interested in launching a robotaxi service. Such a move would place Amazon in direct competition with Tesla, which is attempting to develop its own robotaxi service.

“We see Amazon (and other tech players) as clear competitors, not partners, vs. the likes of Tesla and GM,” Morgan Stanley wrote in a note to clients published in May, after The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was in discussions to buy Zoox.

Bezos and Musk are alreadyrivalsin the rocket industry, where Bezos’ Blue Origin and Musk’s SpaceX are developing rockets and spaceships to send people to space. To that end, they are competing for billions of dollars worth of NASA contracts to createlunar-landing systemsfor the agency’s astronauts. SpaceX has achieved more visible milestones so far, such as successfully landing and reusing rocket boosters and, in May,becoming the first companyto send people into space on a privately developed and operated space vehicle.

Even before Musk’s Friday tweet, he and Bezos had criticized each other’s business practices and ideas. Earlier this month, MusksaidAmazon should be broken up after it initially declined to publish a book written by a coronavirus skeptic (the company later reversed that decision). And in 2019, Bezostook an apparent jabat Musk’s goal to send people to Mars, saying, “Go live on the top of Mount Everest for a year first and see if you like it, because it’s a garden paradise compared to Mars.”

In interviews with business Insider, Asad Hussain, a mobility analyst at PitchBook, and Dan Ives, a managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, were split on whether Amazon or Tesla would be more likely to roll out a robotaxi service first.

“Right now, when it comes to robotaxis, you look at Tesla and Uber as the two that in this swim lane are well ahead of the competition,” Ives said.

“We’re more optimistic on Amazon/Zoox’s prospects than Tesla’s prospects in terms of rolling out a robotaxi service,” Hussain said.

Some experts have said Tesla vehiclesdon’t have the necessary hardwareto drive without human assistance, and the electric-car maker has missed multiple deadlines related to autonomy. But the company has continued to expand the capabilities of its partially automated Autopilot system beyond what other automakers offer.

The research firm Guidehouse Insightsplaced Zoox ahead of Teslain its 2020 ranking of companies developing autonomous mobility services (the list was published before Amazon’s interest in Zoox was first reported), and Ives said having access to Amazon’s vast financial resources should accelerate Zoox’s progress.

“When Musk talks about a technology, just given SpaceX and Tesla and everything he’s achieved…it has a lot more credibility with investors then maybe some other companies,” Ives said. “But there’s only one other person,” who matches Musk’s reputation for delivering on research-and-development projects, “and that’s Bezos.”

Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it’s like to work there? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com, on Signal at 646-768-4712, or via his encrypted email address mmatousek@protonmail.com.


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