SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said that the Starlink satellite broadband internet service is on track to make profit in 2023. “This year, Starlink will make money. We actually had a cash flow positive quarter last year,” Shotwell shared at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) annual Commercial Space Transportation conference in Washington, D.C. on February 8th. She did not provide additional details about the company’s earnings.
Ms. Shotwell’s statement is an indication that SpaceX’s Starlink service is a success. As of today, SpaceX operates a constellation of around 3,600 Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit that provide internet service to over one million customers globally. The company is working to launch 7,500 more Starlink satellites to expand service coverage.
SpaceX is one of the world’s most valuable private companies, with a current valuation of $137 billion. Many retail investors, especially SpaceX fans, would like to own a piece of company stock but access to its equity is limited to only private investors with close connections to the company. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in 2020 that they might spin off the Starlink business to pursue an IPO (Initial Public Offering) to allow people to invest in the company.
However, before potentially turning Starlink into a publicly traded company, Musk said “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,” he wrote on Twitter in 2021. “Once we can predict cash flow reasonably well, Starlink will IPO.” Regarding the matter, Ms. Shotwell was asked at the recent FAA conference about SpaceX’s plans to IPO its Starlink business and she said there was “no update.”
Last year, Musk told employees that Starlink could go public sometime in 2025. He previously said that if Starlink ever goes public he would like to give first access to ‘small retail investors.’ “We will probably IPO Starlink, but only several years in the future when revenue growth is smooth & predictable. Public market does *not* like erratic cash flow haha. I’m a huge fan of small retail investors. Will make sure they get top priority. You can hold me to it,” Musk said in September 2020, 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,” he assured.
We will probably IPO Starlink, but only several years in the future when revenue growth is smooth & predictable. Public market does *not* like erratic cash flow haha. I’m a huge fan of small retail investors. Will make sure they get top priority. You can hold me to it.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 28, 2020
Once we can predict cash flow reasonably well, Starlink will IPO— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 9, 2021
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX Starlink.com
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.