It’s been over a year since Amazon’s HQ2 selection process wrapped up with disastrous results in Long Island City, the Queens neighborhood in New York City. But new information regarding Jeff Bezos’ motivations during the process has come to light, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Bezos’ campaign for the new Amazon headquarters ultimately came down to his near-obsessive envy of Elon Musk’s $1.3 billion gained in incentives from Nevada to open an enormous battery plant, according to 12 inside sources Bloomberg made contact with.

“In meetings, the Inc. chief expressed envy for how Musk had pitted five Western states against one another in a bidding war for thousands of manufacturing jobs; he wondered why Amazon was okay with accepting comparatively trifling incentives. It was a theme Bezos returned to often, according to four people privy to his thinking,” said the Bloomberg report.

A big win by Boeing Co. in 2013 also chipped away at Bezos’ jealousy. The airplane manufacturing company received $8.7 billion from Washington state that year, only to gradually reduce its employees over the next few years.

Discontent to be second place to Musk and Boeing, Bezos encouraged employees working on the highly secretive HQ2 project to openly demand tax breaks of local governments vying for Amazon’s HQ2, propagating what was internally described as a “F*** you. We’re Amazon” mentality.

Amidst concerns some team members expressed regarding the company coming across as “tone-deaf given Bezos’s wealth, not to mention triggering a national debate over income equality,” these doubters were redistributed to other projects, and the HQ2 project quickly became more confidential within the company.

Initially the company had crafted a 25-city list of metros that could support 20,000 new employees. But rather than curate the list further from there, Bezos’ greed for the best government incentives he could command spurred the competition, which gained bids from 238 cities across North America, which were then narrowed down to 20 finalist cities — a group that, for the most part, overlapped with the original 25-city list.

Once the news got out that Amazon was mostly bidding for big tax breaks, government officials weren’t happy at being strung along by Amazon. In Long Island City, the secrecy and manipulation came to a boiling point when local government officials learned that Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio had shut them out of the process.

“I was angry because something so massively important had been decided and no one had bothered to tell local elected officials or anyone else who had a big stake in this,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told Bloomberg.

Ultimately, this rallying opposition by local officials dissolved the proposed HQ2 in Long Island City. But, HQ2 construction in Crystal City, Virginia, is still going strong and contributing to rising home prices in Northern Virginia.

Despite the ire Amazon’s faced in the wake of all the HQ2 drama, the company defended its past work with local governments, highlighting its $270 billion in investments in 40 states, and its creation of 500,000 jobs, in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.

However, it’s hard to see such a statement making up for Bezos taking advantage of his corporation’s own power. As one source told Bloomberg, “Negotiating incentives is easy. What’s hard is winning hearts and minds, and Amazon didn’t do anything to win hearts and minds.”

Email Lillian Dickerson

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription