VC Jurvetson Likes Odds on SpaceX; Space Tourism….Not So Much….


Steve Jurvetson: Only investing in the unknown

Draper Fisher Jurvetson, has invested in both Tesla and Reva Electric (Reva makes low-cost electric city runabouts). He knew little about the auto business when he got into the field, and admits he’s been very lucky. Regarding electric cars, he says, “You couldn’t possibly have put a business plan together that foresaw what is happening today.”

He’s also a fan of space start-ups, and not just because he’s an avid model rocketry buff. SpaceX, he says, will be profitable after one launch, successful or not. In the space launch business, the penalty for failure is 10 percent — that’s how much the company must refund to its client if the launch vehicle blows up on the pad. The trick, of course, is getting the launch contracts, but with those odds, Jurvetson says, he’d be a fool not to invest. Furthermore, there’s “no technology invention risk.” SpaceX, he says, is an integration challenge, but the science is already known and proven in practice.

Space tourism, though, is out. Too expensive. “You can get to zero gravity pretty cheaply,” in an airplane. Rocketry is overkill.

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