Kuiper Exec Dave Limp to Replace Bob Smith as Blue Origin CEO
Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith is stepping down from his position at the end of this year, and Amazon’s Kuiper lead Dave Limp will become CEO of the company. A Blue Origin spokesperson confirmed the change in a statement to Via Satellite on Tuesday, after various outlets published Smith and Limp’s letters to the Blue Origin team.
Limp will join Blue Origin in December, and Smith will stay with the company through January 2, the representative said.
Smith has led Jeff Bezos’ rocket company since 2017. He was a longtime aerospace executive at Honeywell. During his tenure at Blue Origin, the company flew the first crewed mission of the New Shepard suborbital rocket, flying Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to the edge of space in 2021.
“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,” Blue Origin said in a statement.
However, Smith has faced criticism for his leadership of Blue Origin, including an open letter from former employees in 2021 alleging safety concerns and a sexist environment.
Dave Limp is currently Amazon’s senior vice president for Devices and Services, and he’s been the lead executive on Project Kuiper. This past year at SATELLITE, Limp introduced Kuiper user terminals in a fireside chat.
As part of his role, Limp also led Kindle, Alexa, Zoox, Fire TV, and other Amazon initiatives. The Alexa business has reportedly struggled as Amazon was unable to monetize the voice assistant, contributing to last year’s layoffs.
Amazon announced in August that after 14 years with the company, Limp planned to leave. Two weeks ago at World Satellite Business Week, Naveen Kachroo, head of Product and Business Development for Project Kuiper, represented the constellation in a fireside chat.
“I have been doing a version of this job (building and shipping consumer electronics) on and off for 30+ years. I love it, but I also want to look into the future through a different lens. I am not sure what that future is right now, with the notable exception that it won’t be in the consumer electronics space,” Limp said in August.
The Blue Origin spokesperson called Limp a “proven innovator with a customer-first mindset.”
Limp will have plenty on his plate taking the lead at Blue Origin. The company is supplying the BE-4 engines for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, and working to demonstrate its orbital New Glenn rocket. It also has a contract to deliver the Blue Moon lander for NASA’s Artemis V mission. In addition, Blue Origin is working to return the New Shepard suborbital human spaceflight rocket to flight after one exploded in a September 2022 test.
“I’ve worked closely with Dave for many years. He is the right leader at the right time for Blue,” Jeff Bezos said in a note to Blue Origin employees, shared by CNBC. “Dave is a proven innovator with a customer-first mindset and extensive experience leading and scaling large, complex organizations. Dave has an outstanding sense of urgency, brings energy to everything, and helps teams move very fast.”