“For man to truly understand himself, he must travel beyond the clouds”
By Michael Blum
When I saw my first Space Shuttle launch as a child, I knew I wanted to be an astronaut.
After I made my first real money selling PayPal/eBay stock, I bought a ticket on Virgin Galactic to go to space aboard SpaceShipTwo. I later bought a second seat on Space Expedition Corporation’s Lynx. As I became more involved in the Newspace community I began speaking at conferences and universities around the world – the topic being “The Potential for & Impact of Commercial Space & Space Tourism”.
Today, alongside my research and engineering team @Hedgeye, I am co-founding Firefly – a ground-based, small satellite launch company, with one of Hedgeye’s greatest supporters and fans, PJ King, as well as propulsion engineer extraordinaire, Tom Markusic.
With a Ph.D. from Princeton in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Tom has conducted research on deep space propulsion systems and since 2006 has held senior leadership positions inside virtually every leader in the Newspace Industry: Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Tom is Firefly’s CEO and from what I have seen, he will be a fantastic entrepreneur and business executive.
Lowering the cost of small satellite launches to Low Earth and Sun Synchronous Orbits will revolutionize broadband data delivery and earth observation missions. What used to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, is rapidly becoming available in the single digit millions.
While the leaders in the nascent and rapidly developing small sat industry (companies such as PlanetIQ, Skybox, Planet Labs, and numerous others) have raised VC funds well in excess of $100M in the last 1-2 years, there exists virtually no dedicated launcher capacity for these ventures to deliver their payloads to orbit.
With Hedgeye’s help, Firefly will change this.
We have rapidly received our seed funding commitments and are already in discussions with investors looking towards our Series A funding. Since our website launched and word of mouth has spread through the industry, we have been overwhelmed with resumes. We have established our headquarters in Austin, TX and research and development operations in Hawthorne, CA.
What we are setting out to do will be enormously challenging. It is difficult to make exact projections about schedule until we get further along in development, but the team has set itself a goal: To be in orbit in about three years.
Hedgeye has and will continue to support Firefly on a number of fronts: Josh Steiner (today he runs our Financials vertical but in the past he analyzed satellite operators) has worked with us on market sizing.
Jay Van Sciver, who leads Hedgeye’s Industrials team, has worked on valuation analysis for some of the private New Space players. Hedgeye will lend assistance in a variety of operational areas, ranging from finance and accounting to HR, facilities and IT.
We are not in the business of complaining about the 2008 crisis. We are in the business of cutting edge research, intellectual growth, and product innovation. So, I just wanted to take a few minutes this morning to thank you for your business – it’s helping us travel beyond the clouds.
Onward and upward!
Michael Blum is the President of Hedgeye Risk Management. You can follow him on Twitter at @mablum. You can also follow Firefly at @Firefly_Space.