SpaceX may spin off its Starlink broadband business and pursue an IPO (Initial Public Offering). SpaceX founder and CEO of Tesla Elon Musk said this week that Starlink could become a publicly traded company–“at least a few years before Starlink revenue is reasonably predictable,” he wrote in response to a Twitter user who said they would ‘love to invest in the future.’ “Going public sooner than that would be very painful. Will do my best to give long-term Tesla shareholders preference,” Musk added. Having predictable cash flow is necessary to ensure the broadband network’s success.
At least a few years before Starlink revenue is reasonably predictable. Going public sooner than that would be very painful. Will do my best to give long-term Tesla shareholders preference.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 24, 2021
While SpaceX itself will remain a private company, Starlink can become a separate company accessible to investors. It is not the first time Musk teases the idea of Starlink IPO. Last year, he said that whenever Starlink goes public he would like to give first access to ‘small retail investors.’ “I’m a huge fan of small retail investors. Will make sure they get top priority. You can hold me to it,” he said in September 2020.
Launching the Starlink satellite constellation of 12,000 satellites will cost SpaceX around $10 billion, according to SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. “SpaceX needs to pass through a deep chasm of negative cash flow over the next year or so to make Starlink financially viable. Every new satellite constellation in history has gone bankrupt. We hope to be the first that does not,” Musk said in February.
During the Satellite2020 conference, Musk said that if Starlink is successful in obtaining a percentage of users of the global telecommunications market, SpaceX could net $30 billion to $50 billion in revenue annually. During the conference, Musk was asked what his long-term vision for the Starlink network is, “The whole purpose of SpaceX is really to help make life multi-planetary... But the revenue potential of launching satellites to the space station, that taps out about $3 billion dollars a year. But I think providing broadband is more like an order of magnitude more than that, probably $30 billion a year as a rough approximation,” he said. Starlink could provide additional funding for SpaceX's long-term mission to build a fleet of Starships to colonize Mars. Starlink investors will be supporting both, connecting the world to reliable internet and making life multiplanetary.
The $99 per month broadband internet service is available for pre-order via Starlink.com. To date, SpaceX has launched nearly 1,800 satellites and "over half a million people have placed an order or put down a deposit for Starlink,” SpaceX operations engineer Siva Bharadvaj said during the Live broadcast of the Starlink launch last month. “With every launch, we get closer to connecting more people across the world,” he said.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.