Amazon’s head of products and services, Dave Limp, maybe leaving the company, but it won’t be too far from founder Jeff Bezos’s circle.
The executive, fresh off of leading the company’s fall event last week, will take over as the CEO of Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket company, according to The Washington Post. He will replace Bob Smith, who resigned six years after taking charge of the company, but is staying in his role until December 4, and will officially depart on January 2.
The shakeup comes at a critical time. Blue Origin is poised to launch rockets that will carry the first satellites for Amazon’s Project Kuiper internet service, a business Limp has been fostering at the retail giant. But it’s also well behind Elon Musk’s Space X, which has launched thousands of rockets and just tweeted that it had signed up 2 million customers to its Starlink internet service, and boasts big contracts with NASA. Limp will have his hands full playing catch up and continuing the expansion of the business.
“Dave is a proven innovator with a customer-first mindset,” Blue Origin spokeswoman. “He has extensive experience in the high-tech industry and growing highly complex organizations, including leading Amazon’s Kuiper, Kindle, Alexa, Zoox, Fire TV, and many other businesses.”
Blue Origin is a passion project for Bezos, who has said that his success with Amazon was merely a launchpad for his space ambitions. Bezos was among the many private citizens who have flown to space with its space tourism program, and the company has a NASA contract to develop a spacecraft to get astronauts on the moon.
Smith came from Honeywell Aerospace and helped turn Blue Origin from a research and development project into an actual business that could generate money and win government contracts. Under Smith, Blue Origin expanded its headquarters in Kent, Washington, as well as opened up an engine manufacturing plant and another manufacturing facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“In his six years, Bob led Blue Origin’s transformation from an R&D-focused company into a multi-faceted space business nearing $10 billion in customer orders and over 10,000 employees,” the spokeswoman said.
The Post notes the tension and claims of a toxic culture that stemmed from Smith’s leadership.
Limp, meanwhile, is set to leave Amazon after nearly 14 years at the retail giant. He’s spent much of that time helping Amazon carve out a leadership position in the smart home thanks to its Echo line of speakers.