Amazonian Aspirations

All’s Unfair in Love and War


Back in October, the Department of Defense awarded the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to Microsoft after a long-contested fight between the Seattle giant and…the other Seattle giant, Amazon.

OK first of all, we’re pretty sure the Jedi Code doesn’t mention anything about military cloud computing, but whatever. We’ll let it go.

Because Amazon already built cloud services for the CIA, they were considered the clear frontrunner to win the contract. But as criticism from President Trump toward The Washington Post and, by association everything connected to Jeff Bezos (who, in 2013, became sole owner of the Post) increased…

In November, a month after they lost to Microsoft, Amazon filed a notice in the US Court of Federal Claims saying the process had contained deficiencies and "unmistakable bias.”

In their statement accompanying the suit, AWS said:

"It is common practice to stay contract performance while a protest is pending, and it’s important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the Jedi award decision be reviewed.

"AWS is absolutely committed to supporting the Department of Defense’s modernisation efforts and to an expeditious legal process that resolves this matter as quickly as possible."

And it was pretty quick! Last week Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith of the US Federal Claims Court agreed to block the JEDI contract, ordering the US to halt all activities, which are aimed at making the US Defence Department more technologically agile.

The future of the JEDI project is unclear, and in a written statement a Microsoft rep said:

"While we are disappointed with the additional delay we believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require.”

I guess we’ll see.

Interestingly enough, Amazon sort of has former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to thank for this development, since “Holding the Line,” the tell all by Mattis staffer Guy Snodgrass details Trump’s desire to “screw” Amazon out of the contract, and Mattis’s refusal to comply.

Everything’s Coming Up Bezos 


I guess we should probably give up on Trump becoming a huge fan of This Week in Mobile, because we’re going to talk about another Bezos bright spot. Sorry, Don.
This week, Jeff pledged to $10 billion of his vast, $130 billion fortune to combat climate change. Vowing to “work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change,” Bezos plans to begin distributing the money beginning this summer. 

Neighbor Microsoft has set the Pacific Northwest standard for climate change response, and last month unveiled a plan to become carbon negative by 2030. The green bar has been set high.

And compared to other billionaires, Bezos has until now been tight with his money (even refusing to sign the Giving Pledge) earning him plenty of criticism from the public. Within Amazon itself, the failure of the company up until now to adequately address climate change has not only led to public excoriations but walkouts as well. 

The criticism hasn’t quieted yet, with some groups including Greenpeace deeming it a $10 billion piece of hypocrisy, since Amazon still has profoundly lucrative machine-learning contracts with oil and gas firms. 

But it’s a start. And, used properly, that $10 billion could fundamentally reshape the American response to climate change at a time we’re struggling to convince the government to take the action it should.

It’s unclear yet how this potentially reality-changing amount of money will be spent, but we’ll keep you updated. And you’d better believe his critics will, too. 


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