On Tuesday, billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is scheduled to be on board the first human-crewed spaceflight launched by his startup, Blue Origin. Bezos, who is also still executive chairman of Amazon—he formally stepped down as CEO on July 5, the anniversary of the company’s 1994 incorporation—will be joined by three other passengers.
Among the passengers for the flight planned for the anniversary of NASA’s first successful moon trip is 82-year-old Wally Funk, who received astronaut training through a 1960s program for women pilots. Like the other eminently qualified women in the project, Funk—despite blazing trails at the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board—never made it to space in the era’s sexist climate. After the anonymous winner of a $28 million auction to join the spaceflight pulled out due to a scheduling conflict, the third seat went to 18-year-old Oliver Daemen; his father, private equity exec Joes Daemen, had won a spot on the scheduled second flight, was then moved up to this flight, and elected to send his space enthusiast son instead.
The fourth passenger is someone Bezos often calls his best friend: his younger brother, Mark. But besides being the 53-year-old brother of a billionaire, who is Mark Bezos? He’s had a wide-ranging career, albeit one often tied to being the brother of one of the world’s richest men.
He came up as an adman
Mark Bezos first made his way in the marketing and advertising world.
His college degree from Texas Christian University was in advertising and public relations, according to the South China Morning Post, and he worked at some big-name marketing firms such as Saatchi & Saatchi. For a time, he was CEO of his own firm, Bezos-Nathanson, which has handled marketing for a variety of internet startups and, later, big businesses like Ramada Hotels and Dom Pérignon.
He’s now listed as a founding partner and marketing strategy lead at social media training company Venly, whose site mentions he’s also done some marketing communications for his brother’s Blue Origin.
He’s a philanthropist
Mark Bezos is on the board of directors of the Bezos Family Foundation, a charitable organization founded by his and Jeff’s parents, Jackie and Miguel “Mike” Bezos. They, as well as Mark, were early investors in Amazon and benefited financially from its explosive growth.
He also worked for a decade at Robin Hood, a New York-based antipoverty organization not affiliated with the similarly named financial company, serving as senior vice president of communications and events. He also sits on a number of nonprofit boards.
He’s a volunteer firefighter
Depicted in firefighting gear in an Instagram post announcing the brothers’ spaceflight plans, Mark Bezos has been a volunteer with the fire department in Scarsdale, New York, since 2005.
In 2011, he gave a TED talk about an early experience with the department, when he was tasked at a fire scene with what seemed like something less than monumental: retrieving a pair of shoes for a homeowner who had evacuated her burning home barefoot.
But, he explained, the fire department later got a letter thanking the firefighters for their assistance and kindness. This, he said, made him realize that even small actions can make a difference.
“Don’t wait until you make your first million to make a difference in somebody’s life,” said Bezos, one of roughly 745,000 volunteer firefighters in the U.S. “If you have something to give, give it now. Serve food at a soup kitchen. Clean up a neighborhood park. Be a mentor.”
He’s also worked in private equity
Mark Bezos cofounded the private equity firm HighPost in 2019. The company hasn’t disclosed much about its investments.
He’s also served as a strategic adviser to several startups and multimedia companies, according to his LinkedIn profile, and reportedly made some tech investments beyond his initial bet on his brother’s wildly successful internet bookstore.
Bezos’s exact net worth isn’t clear, but he’s certainly not poor. Last year he listed his Scarsdale home for $11 million, with listings indicating the six-bedroom home (with a four-bedroom guesthouse) included a wine cellar and a “golf simulator.”
He’s Jeff’s best friend
Jeff Bezos referred to his brother as his “best friend” in the Instagram post announcing their voyage. The brothers, who also have a sister, Christina, moved a fair bit during their youth due to their father’s job in the oil industry and have long been close.
In interviews, Mark Bezos has referred to sipping bourbon and laughing with his billionaire brother, who once joined him to run the last mile of a marathon.