from the fired-into-space dept.
SpaceX, citing a need to get "leaner," said Friday it will lay off more than 10% of its roughly 6,000 employees.
[...] "To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company," the Hawthorne-based company said in a statement. "Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team."
[...] SpaceX makes most of its money from commercial and national security satellite launches, as well as two NASA contracts, one a multibillion-dollar deal to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and the other up to $2.6 billion to develop a capsule that will deliver astronauts to the space station. The first launch of that capsule, without a crew, is planned for February.
The Elon Musk-led company has even more ambitious — and expensive — plans. Musk has said SpaceX will conduct a "hopper test" of its Mars spaceship prototype as early as next month. The production version of that spaceship and its rocket system is expected to cost billions.
Earlier this month, privately held SpaceX said it raised about $273 million in equity and other securities in an offering that sought to raise about $500 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company is worth $31 billion, according to Equidate, which tracks private-company valuations.
There's an old adage about making something: "Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two." Is SpaceX trying to pick all three?
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently "fired at least seven" managers in order to speed up development and testing of satellites that could provide broadband around the world, Reuters reported today.
SpaceX denied parts of the story, saying that some of those managers left of their own accord and that the firings happened over a longer period of time than Reuters claimed.
[...] Among the fired employees were SpaceX VP of Satellites Rajeev Badyal and top designer Mark Krebs, Reuters wrote. "Rajeev wanted three more iterations of test satellites," Reuters quoted one of its sources as saying. "Elon thinks we can do the job with cheaper and simpler satellites, sooner."
Reuters described a culture clash between Musk and employees hired from Microsoft, "where workers were more accustomed to longer development schedules than Musk's famously short deadlines." Badyal is a former Microsoft employee, while Krebs previously worked for Google."
Apparently, the test satellites work:
"We're using the Tintins to explore that modification," one of the SpaceX employee sources said. "They're happy and healthy and we're talking with them every time they pass a ground station, dozens of times a day."
SpaceX engineers have used the two test satellites to play online video games at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California and the Redmond office, the source said. "We were streaming 4k YouTube and playing 'Counter-Strike: Global Offensive' from Hawthorne to Redmond in the first week," the person added.
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Elon Musk's rocket company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., is set to raise $500 million at a $30.5 billion valuation, in a bid to help get its internet-service business off the ground, according to people familiar with the fundraising.
The Hawthorne, Calif., company, known as SpaceX, is raising the capital from existing shareholders and new investor Baillie Gifford & Co., one of the people said. The Scottish money-management firm is one of the largest investors in another Musk-led company, Tesla with about a 7.6% stake, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
SpaceX and the investors have agreed on the financing terms, but the money hasn't been sent to the company yet, this person said. SpaceX could announce the deal by year-end.
SpaceX was last valued by investors at about $28 billion in a funding round in April. The investors are paying $186 per share for new stock in the latest funding round, this person said. That is up about 10% from the $169-per-share paid during the April fundraising, according to SpaceX data compiled by private-company analytics firm Lagniappe Labs.
Including this round, SpaceX has raised about $2.5 billion of equity funding, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Last month it raised $250 million via its first high-yield loan sale.
[...] SpaceX investors are optimistic about the potential of Starlink, according to a person familiar with their thinking. SpaceX projects the constellation could balloon to more than 11,000 satellites. The largest current telecommunications constellation has 65 satellites.
However, as at Tesla, Mr. Musk has a history of missing projections at SpaceX. In early 2016 SpaceX projected that it would launch 44 rockets this year, according to internal documents previously reported by The Wall Street Journal. On Tuesday, the company was scheduled to launch its 21st rocket but minutes before scheduled liftoff it was scrubbed for technical reasons and rescheduled for Wednesday.