As tech billionaire feuds go, this one is shaping up to be priceless.
Shortly after Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket exploded on the launch pad, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg took to his own social networking site to throw some snarky shade in his fellow billionaire’s direction, and to quietly suggest he had lost any appetite to ever work with SpaceX again.
Zuckerberg’s chilly anger stems from the fact that when Musk’s Falcon rocket blew up yesterday, it incinerated a payload of particular importance to the Facebook founder – a geo-stationary Facebook satellite that was intended to beam internet to the heart of Africa.
Zuckerberg, who had traveled to Kenya to be in Africa for the arrival in orbit of the satellite, named Amos-6, dashed off a quick response on Facebook.
“As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent.”
As if that wasn’t cold enough, Zuck then continued, “Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”
So, now you know what it’s like for Facebook staffers when you screw up on one of Zuck’s pet projects.
Aquila is the company code name for a project involving a network of gigantic solar-powered drones with the wingspan of a Boeing 737, which will provide an internet hook up to people on the ground below, using a laser to beam data to a base station on the ground.
An amateur pilot, Alex Moskalyuk, asked in response to Zuckerberg’s post: "What's insurance like on that type of thing?"
Zuckerberg replied: “The problem isn’t the money; it’s that now it may take longer to connect people.”
But, just FYI, the Israeli state-owned company Spacecom estimated that the cost of launching, insuring and one year’s operation of Amos-6 would be around $85 million.
Even for Mark Zuckerberg, that’s a fair bit of dough. And that's gotta hurt, although possibly not as much as the blow to his pride.
Just a few hours earlier, the entrepreneur had posted a picture of himself wearing his signature gray hoodie having lunch in Nairobi with Joseph Mucheru, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Information and Communications.
“We talked about internet access and his ambitious plans for connecting everyone in Kenya,” Zuck wrote.
In a statement on the explosion, SpaceX said the rocket exploded due to a problem “around the upper stage oxygen tank” which occurred during fueling.
Musk has yet to publicly respond to Zuckerberg’s post, but Tech Crunch imagined their private exchange...