We really want to go into space, and VCs are beginning to take notice. Apart from investing in unicorns and other well-known disrupters, an emerging VC trend is investment in space-related startups. Last year, over $2 billion were poured into these companies, and so far this year startups have seen around $200 million. Attracted by the prospect of massive returns, investors are closing in on an industry with a historically high barrier to entry. There’s no real precedent for domestic competition in space travel, but as the digital connectivity grows, so too do the needs for satellites in space and rockets to take them there.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX may be the most well-known of these startups, but others including Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Bill Gates’s Kymeta have also attracted coveted funds from a number of VCs. As Lux Capital’s Peter Hebert has pointed out, Silicon Valley “inspires herd-like behavior”, so for him it comes as no surprise that VCs are backing these projects in droves.
Some companies are getting creative with how they enter this previously off-limits stratosphere. Planet, for instance, is launching dozens of satellites into space. While they can’t compete with longtime satellite provider Airbus in terms of image quality, they are breaking ground on image breadth. With over 80 satellites launched, Planet is able to cover far more of the Earth’s surface.
Another benefit of increased satellite coverage? We can bring more people online. Right now, two billion people are connected. But Draper Fisher Jurvetson partner Steve Jurvetson expects to see as many as 6 billion online sooner than we thought.