SpaceX might spin off Starlink with stock offering


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Capitalism in space: Comments by SpaceX’s CEO suggest the company is considering spinning off its Starlink internet operation, with the additional possibility that spin-off would go public.

SpaceX President & COO Gwynne Shotwell told a group of investors that the company may spin off its Starlink internet satellite business, possibly as a public company. “Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public,” Shotwell said, according to a report from Bloomberg.

…There’s no time frame yet disclosed for a potential IPO of the Starlink side of SpaceX, and the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It’s unlikely the whole company would go public. Elon Musk has said for years that he wouldn’t take SpaceX public until the company has been regularly launching to Mars.

Don’t start counting your chickens. While there might be good reasons for SpaceX to do this, I suspect there are other good reasons for not doing it. They will likely make the decision once the Starlink constellation is operational and they have begun providing service to customers. At that point they will see what the demand will bring, and will have a better idea what’s the best course to take.

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4 comments

  • A. Nonymous

    I thought the whole point of Starlink was to provide an *ongoing* stream of stable revenue that could be used to pay for the billions in construction/launch/operations costs needed to put a small city on Mars, without having to depend solely upon government funding and the mountain of problems it brings with it?

    Spinning it off, much less going public, would give SpaceX a one-time infusion of cash, to be certain, but at the cost of long-term income needed to sustain Elon’s long-term plans. Unless he thinks that he can pull off an IPO at Tesla P/Es, or is thinking about only selling a small, non-controlling stake in Starlink, I don’t really understand this move.

    I don’t know enough about the regulations surrounding the ISP/cell market. Could the ongoing paperwork to maintain governmental compliance be such that there is little extra cost to going minority-public and adding SEC compliance costs?

    The last thing that I would ever want to see, of course, is Starlink getting bought up by an existing telecom. Those do not have good track records when it comes to customer value.

  • Willi

    I’m guessing that Ms. Shotwell is the real genius behind some of Musk’s apparent successes. Along with some good ideas he has come up with some really screwball ones. A YouTube creator named thunderf00t has created some good videos debunking his Boring Company and Hyperlink ideas. Personally, I’m greatly anticipating becoming a Starlink subscriber. But, if the asking price is just too much, Starlink could easily be a flop, like the first Iridium. Spinning off Starlink could keep it from becoming a drag on other Musk projects should it not be as great a project as every expects. Being a standalone company would allow investors to properly evaluate its future performance. There will be competition like OneWeb. Complaints from the astronomical community are growing and could become a major problem.

  • wayne

    tangentially related…..

    Joe Rogan Experience #1425
    Garrett Reisman
    2-7-2020
    https://youtu.be/3RG5pXTpLBI
    2:12:12

    Garrett Reisman is a former NASA Astronaut and currently a Professor of Astronautical Engineering at USC and…. a Senior Advisor at SpaceX.

  • wayne

    If you can get through Joe being agog, Reisman actually has a bit of inside-SpaceX tidbits to relate. (I don’t follow this closely myself, but they probably mean some-thing to those who read the tea leaf’s, better than I.
    (so to speak)

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