When Jeff Bezos thanked Amazon customers for essentially paying for his first trip to space, he apparently wasn’t talking to Oliver Daemen, the Dutch teen who joined the billionaire on Blue Origin’s inaugural passenger spaceflight.
That’s because the 18-year-old Daemen says he’s never actually ordered anything on Amazon before.
Daemen, who became the youngest person to ever reach space with the trip, even told Bezos that he’d never used the website, according to Reuters.
“I told Jeff, like, I’ve actually never bought something from Amazon,” Daemen told Reuters in an interview last week after the teen returned to the Netherlands following his historic spaceflight.
“And he was like, ‘Oh, wow, it’s a long time ago I heard someone say that.'”
Of course, Amazon has done just fine without Daemen’s support. The company that Bezos founded in 1994 pulled in $386 billion in revenue in 2020, is currently valued at $1.8 trillion and ships a few million packages per day.
However, the fact that Daemen hasn’t shopped with Amazon is less surprising when you take into account that the world’s largest e-commerce company has only recently ramped up its presence in the Netherlands, where Daemen lives, a representative for Daemen points out.
While Amazon started selling just e-books in the Netherlands in 2014, and Dutch customers have been able to get 24-hour delivery from Amazon through the company’s German website since 2016, Amazon did not fully launch a Dutch-language website (Amazon.nl, which sells 100 million products and includes “thousands” of Dutch retailers) until March 2020. As such, the company still faces steep competition from other Dutch e-commerce sites that have gained a foothold in the country, such as Bol.com and Coolblue.
It remains unclear if Daemen will start shopping on Amazon now that he’s shared a space capsule with the company’s billionaire founder. A spokesperson for Daemen told CNBC Make It that the teen is currently on vacation and unavailable for interviews, while Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At the very least, it sounds like Daemen and Bezos got along fine, even though the Dutch teen was not an Amazon customer.
“Jeff Bezos turned out to be super social and nice in real life too,” Daemen said in an interview with Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad a few days after the Blue Origin flight. Daemen added that he found Bezos’ knowledge of Blue Origin’s rockets “really impressive,” and said he felt that space technology is more than just a “side project” for the world’s wealthiest man.
“You may think that this is a side project for him because he is mainly involved with Amazon, but that is not true,” Daemen said of Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon’s CEO at the beginning of July to focus on Blue Origin as well as initiaties like the Bezos Earth Fund, The Washington Post and the Amazon Day 1 Fund (Bezos remains executive chairman of Amazon’s board).
In the days leading up to the July 20 Blue Origin flight, Daemen said that he trained with the rest of the crew, which included Bezos and his brother, Mark Bezos, as well as 82-year-old aerospace pioneer Wally Funk (the oldest person to ever reach space).
“In two days, we practiced maybe 20 times the entire flight…with all kinds of scenarios, in case something should go wrong. Beneath the simulator were huge speakers that mimicked the [sound of the] rocket,” Daemen told the Dutch newspaper.
Daemen, who has said reaching space had been his “ultimate, ultimate goal,” has even left open the possibility that he could find himself back with Blue Origin in the future, possibly even as an intern. The teenager, who is set to begin studying physics at the University of Utrecht in the fall, told Algemeen Dagblad “if it were up to me, it certainly won’t be the last time I go into space.”
“At Blue Origin they have already said that I can always come back, for example for an internship,” he added. “Maybe I will too.”
Daemen landed his seat on the Blue Origin spaceflight after the still-anonymous winner of a $28 million auction for the seat dropped out due to a scheduling conflict. Blue Origin did not reveal the cost of Daemen’s seat, but the company confirmed that the teen’s father, private equity CEO Joes Daemen, paid for his son’s seat.