Elon Musk’s “full-time job” tweet was funny, but it revealed a blunt truth that most people don’t admit
It’s a story about Elon Musk, SpaceX, Twitter, and a tough truth. If you like it I think you will like my ebook too, Elon Musk has very big plans, which you can download for free here.
Our story begins with something Musk tweeted in response to a report by a reporter on the legal battle between SpaceX and Amazon over efforts to build and launch satellites that provide high-speed internet connectivity.
- In 2019, Amazon announced its intention to enter the Internet satellite business through its subsidiary, Kuiper Systems LLC, and asked the Federal Communications Commission to let it operate in a frequency spectrum reserved for this type of purpose.
- However, the FCC had already licensed this spectrum many years ago to companies like SpaceX, OneWeb and others. SpaceX and the others opposed Amazon’s request. Thus began a complicated legal and regulatory battle before the FCC which continues today.
- Meanwhile, SpaceX reports that it now has nearly 1,700 operating satellites launched and 100,000 clients, and OneWeb is said to currently have around 200 satellites in orbit. Amazon hasn’t launched one yet.
All of this brings us to the last three FCC filings in this ongoing battle, which in turn prompted Musk to tweet:
- On August 19, SpaceX filed its plan to move to the next generation of its satellites, which would reach 30,000 satellites in total.
- On August 25, Amazon asked the FCC to reject SpaceX’s new plan.
- Then, this week, SpaceX filed a response that complained, among other things, about the number of objections Amazon had filed against SpaceX. As his lawyer wrote:
“Amazon’s recent missive is unfortunately only the latest in its ongoing efforts to slow down competition …
While Amazon has waited 15 months to explain how its system works, it has filed objections to SpaceX on average every 16 days this year. “
With that, we come to Musk’s tweet, which came in response to a report from Michael Sheetz, which covers the space for CNBC:
“Taking legal action against SpaceX is * actually * his full-time job. “
I burst out laughing for a second reading this. Even though Jeff Bezos is only mentioned once in the FCC legal documents that I can find (and not even by name), we all know who Musk must be referring to here. Law? At least I think so.
And it’s fun to watch Musk troller Bezos on Twitter sometimes. He seems to be really enjoying it. However, I think there is also a brutal, messy and ugly truth contained in the tweet.
Assuming this is a thinly veiled dig at Bezos, we all know Bezos’ full-time job isn’t really to use the legal system to defend Kuiper, and often against SpaceX. (He’s busy these days building rockets and leading the charge.)
But he is someone job.
Whose work? Well, in its recent filing, SpaceX said that Amazon “regularly brings up to six lobbyists and lawyers to its many meetings with the Commission about SpaceX.”
Meanwhile, SpaceX director of satellite policy, who signed the latest deposit, is an accomplished lawyer who previously worked as a senior advisor to the former president of the FCC and to Congress.
And that, I dare say – although most people don’t like to admit it – that this is exactly how our system is designed to work. I would even go so far as to say that’s a good thing, all things considered.
Because we are talking about the launch of several thousand commercial satellites – an unprecedented scale – as well as the revolutionary use of the frequency spectrum. It is even difficult to think about the second and third order effects, as well as the magnitude of the opportunity.
So even people who want less government overall might agree that in this case it probably makes sense to put in place a strong regulatory framework.
Granted, it can be messy, delaying, boring, and frustrating. But what is the alternative?
In the extreme, it would be a total melee, in which any company could interfere with any other company, and which paradoxically could discourage the best companies from competing in the first place.
Longtime readers will know that I’m hungry for SpaceX, or OneWeb, or Amazon, or some other company – I really don’t know which – to achieve the goal ofbring high speed broadband internet access to the most remote locations.
I have seen with my own eyes how a lack of broadband access can hold back rural areas in the 21st century. So I think I understand the urgency.
Now, I don’t necessarily think Musk was trying to make all of these points about regulatory state, legal system, and innovation. I think he’s more likely to take the opportunity to roast Bezos again.
But he still revealed something important.
Since Shakespeare’s time, people have complained about lawyers. Damn, I’m complaining about them, and I’m a non-practicing lawyer myself.
However, when it comes to complicated business activities, there is an advantage in having a strong and complicated legal system. Paraphrase with the exception of all those others who already have summer has tried.another great and daring thinker of old, it might just be the worst possible system,
Either way, this is the system we live under. And when you do, no matter what type of business you run, you’ll be happy that someone’s “real full-time job” is to be your zealous advocate.
(Don’t forget the free ebook: Elon Musk has very big plans, which you can download here.)