An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

Alex Turner
3 min readFeb 4, 2022
phone screen showing Amazon text and Amazon logo

Dear Jeff,

I was excited to read about the commissioning of your new boat in the port of Rotterdam. Coming from Scotland, we have a sad history regarding the decline of the ship-building industry, and I can only imagine the number of jobs involved in the construction of this boat. Bravo for the boost to the local economy. (Assuming it stays in the Netherlands and doesn’t get siphoned off to Oman?) Oh, and congratulations on buying yourself such a lavish gift. I believe in self care too!

But $485 million? For a boat for one man? Pardon me, but this seems a little excessive, even for a superyacht. Though I note that orders for superyachts are up 25% on last year. I wondered if there was a reason you needed such a staggeringly expensive item? Did your accountant tell you it would a good idea tax wise? Is it just your frail ego? Is this because Amazon just recorded $14.3billion in profits — double that of the previous year? I just can’t get my head around it. But I do know, seeing as 99.99999% of the world can survive without a half-a-billion dollar superyacht, surely you don’t actually need one either.

I was also disappointed to read that due to what can only be some kind of miscalculation in the design or an oversight in port logistics, it turns out that this boat, when completed, will not actually be able to leave the port without dismantling a historic bridge in Rotterdam. As a former EIA consultant, I can say with confidence that this should have been addressed at the feasibility study stage — for instance, through changes to the boat design, or build location.

But, Jeff, it would seem where there is a will, there is a way. And so your boat builder extraordinaire has somehow convinced the Port of Rotterdam that dismantling and rebuilding the bridge to allow safe passage is an acceptable fix for your predicament. As someone who both cares about cultural heritage and has worked with cultural heritage experts and stakeholders on a great many projects, this news is quite galling. I mean, why do we bother to avoid and mitigate impacts on cultural heritage assets when you can just remove them when they’re in the way? Why didn’t we think of that!

Somehow it would sit better with me if it was a defence contract, or a hospital boat destined for Bangladesh, or just something…

--

--

Alex Turner

Founder, feminist, entrepreneur, coffee + self care