Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin LLC, (left), and Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices and services at Amazon.com Inc.
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin will replace CEO Bob Smith with outgoing Amazon CEO Dave Lemp, CNBC has learned.
Smith will retire effective Dec. 4 and will remain with the company through the Jan. 2 CEO transition, according to Blue Origin employee memos written by Smith and Bezos that were obtained by CNBC.
Limp joins Blue Origin in a key phase of the company’s multiple space projects. Blue needs to ramp up production of its BE-4 rocket engines, get its New Shepard space tourist rocket back into flight, and launch the next-generation New Glenn rocket for the first time — as well as fulfill a recently won NASA contract for a spacecraft. Manned lunar lander.
In a statement to CNBC, a Blue Origin spokesperson praised Limp as a “proven innovator with a customer-first mindset” who has “extensive experience in the high-tech industry and highly complex growing organizations.”
Amazon announced last month that Limb would step down from his position later this year. As Amazon’s head of devices and services, Limb oversaw Amazon’s Alexa, Echo and Ring units, as well as some of its more experimental divisions like Zoox’s self-driving vehicles and its Internet satellite business Project Kuiper.
Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices and services, speaks at Amazon headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia, on September 20, 2023.
Eric Lee | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Limp’s resignation came as a shock, as he had spent more than 13 years at Amazon. He became a top aide to CEO Andy Jassy and a member of Amazon’s S-Team, a close-knit group of top executives across nearly all of its businesses.
Additionally, Limb and Bezos worked closely together when the Amazon founder was still CEO. Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and Echo smart speakers were Bezos’ pet projects, and Limb ran both high-profile ventures.
Read Bezos’ letter to Blue Origin employees on Monday:
I’m pleased to announce that Dave Limp will join Blue effective December 4th as CEO, replacing Bob, who chose to step down on January 2nd. The overlap is intended to ensure a smooth transition.
Before I provide some background on Dave, I’d like to take some time to get to know Bob and the significant growth and transformation we’ve experienced during his tenure. Under Bob’s leadership, Blue has grown to multi-billion dollar sales orders, with a significant backlog of our vehicles and engines. Our team has grown from 850 people when Bob joined to over 10,000 today. We’ve expanded from one office in Kent to building a launch pad at LC-36 and five million square feet of facilities in seven states.
Our mission has also evolved: we have flown 31 people over the Kármán Line, roughly five percent of all the people who have gone into space. Flight-qualified BE-4 engines are ready to propel Vulcan into orbit. New Glenn is closing in on launch next year, and through our latest contract with NASA, we’ll be putting Americans back on the moon, to stay this time. We’ve also engaged and inspired millions of children and teachers through our Future Club efforts. We’ve made tremendous progress in building a path to space for Earth, thanks to each of you and Bob’s leadership.
I have worked closely with Dave for many years. He is the right leader at the right time for the Blues. Dave joins us after nearly 14 years at Amazon, where he most recently served as Senior Vice President of Amazon Devices and Services, where he led Kuiper, Kindle, Alexa, Zoox, and many other companies. Before Amazon, Dave had roles at other high-tech companies, including Palm and Apple. Dave is a proven innovator with a customer-first mindset with extensive experience leading and scaling large, complex organizations. Dave has a great sense of urgency, brings energy to everything, and helps teams move very quickly.
Please join me in welcoming Dave and thanking Bob. Through this transformation, I know we will continue to focus on our customer commitments, production schedules and execution with speed and operational excellence. I look forward to the many exciting and historic landmarks that lie ahead!
Read Smith’s letter to Blue Origin employees:
It’s been almost six years since I joined Blue Origin. During that time, our team, facilities and sales orders have grown dramatically, and we have made significant contributions to the history of spaceflight.
It is with great pride and satisfaction for all we have accomplished that I announce that, effective December 4, I will step down from my role as CEO of Blue Origin. I will remain with Blue until January 2 to ensure a smooth transition with the new CEO.
It has been an honor to be part of this great team, and I am confident that Blue Origin’s greatest achievements lie ahead of us. We have rapidly scaled this company from its roots in prototyping and research into a large and prominent aerospace company. We have the right strategy. An extremely talented team, a strong client base, and some of the most ambitious and technically exciting projects in the entire industry. We also have a team that cares deeply about its mission, legacy, and how we contribute to the next generation and move everyone to a brighter future.
Jeff and I have been discussing my plan for months, and Jeff will be announcing Blue’s new CEO in a separate memo soon. I am very excited about the operational excellence and culture of innovation that this new leader will bring to Blue. Building on the foundation we have created over the past few years.
I am committed to ensuring that this transition is flawless, and everyone should know that I will always be on the Blue Team.
This is breaking news. . Please check back for updates
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Dave Limp’s case at Amazon.
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