Jeff Bezos’s $42 Million Clock
Jeff Bezos’s $42 Million Clock, The ’10,000-Year Clock’ is one of many quirky projects the Amazon.com founder has going. Jeff Bezos changed the way we shop, with Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) He transformed how many of us read, with his Kindle e-reader.He has a few other potentially life-changing ideas, too. In a patent application made public in August 2011, for example, Mr. Bezos is listed as one of two inventors of a “system and method for protecting devices from impact damage.”
In other words: an air bag for cellphones.A drawing in the application shows the system could detect when a gadget is falling and deploy before the thing smacks the ground.Blue Origin suffered a setback in August when an unmanned craft veered out of control during a test flight and …”The protection system,” the patent application reads, “causes the device to be reoriented and deploys an air bag prior to contact such that the air bag first contacts the surface at impact. Instead of the cellular phone directly impacting the surface, the air bag absorbs the impact and cushions the cellular phone so that damage is reduced or substantially eliminated.”
The famously secretive Mr. Bezos acknowledged that his name is on the airbag-patent application but declined to elaborate on the air bag. “I can’t talk about the future road map, I’m sorry,” he said in an interview. “I don’t even want to say whether or not we’re working on it.”
Some of history’s greatest innovators have been among its most idiosyncratic, and Mr. Bezos shows signs of fitting that mold. He is the latest businessman to use his fortune to fund ambitious and what some might consider far-fetched plans.
Howard Hughes, after making his name making movies in the 1920s and 1930s, devoted himself to developing and personally testing the world’s fastest planes. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has attempted to set speed records on sea and in air. Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison has competed for the America’s Cup sailing team he backs himself.
David Risher, a former Amazon executive, said his former boss “thinks in decades and centuries Unlike most of us, Jeff is hard-wired for the very long term.”
Mr. Bezos has already gained some fame with his Blue Origin space-travel project. But the 48-year-old, whose net worth is estimated at $20 billion, is quietly putting time and money into some other less-public side projects that have little or nothing to do with online shopping.