Planetary Resources, a company backed by billionaires who are seeking to make trillions of dollars mining asteroids, wants the public to get involved in its venture. The catch: the public will be expected to fund whatever activities it undertakes.
That’s the message from Planetary Resources Co-founder Peter Diamandis. If the company gets enough suggestions from the public, it was begin a KickStarter campaign to seek donations from the general public to fund them.
“To offer you a chance to actually get involved, we’ve been tossing around the idea of adding additional capacity in our production run, and either offering you access to a portion of our of our orbiting spacecraft – or – if there’s enough demand, actually build you an additional Space Telescope for your own use,” Diamandis wrote in a blog post.
Now, all this is very interesting…
KickStarter is generally for smaller projects that are just getting going and have no significant amounts of funds behind them. That is not the case here. Four out of Planetary Resources five investors are billionaires and the fifth is a former member of Planetary Resources’ billionaires boys’ club.
|Larry Page||Google Co-Founder, CEO||$18.7|
|Eric Schmidt||Chairman of the Board, Google||$6.9|
|K. Ram Shriram||Founder, Sherpalo; Founding Board Member, Google||$1.6|
|H. Ross Perot, Jr.||Chairman of the Board, Perot Systems||$1.4|
The fifth investor is Microsoft mogul and two-time ISS space tourist Charles Simonyi, who was on the Forbes list of billionaires until a few years ago.
I realize that crowd sourcing is in right now and it gets people involved and invested in the project. I get that part. There’s some logic there and if the company were a non-profit or some small start-up trying to bootstrap its way up without much money, it would make sense.
But, I don’t think this is quite the right way to go given how much money is behind this project. This just seems like a way to replace a more traditional outreach effort that the company might undertake by getting other people to pay for it. This is also a way to raise funds for the company while clothing it as part of an outreach effort. It’s also a cheap way to figure out what people will pay for without paying anyone to figure that out for you. The message is: we’ll engage the public only if they’re willing to pay us to do so and figure out our marketing strategy for us.
Why not just solicit ideas and fund whatever the company thinks are the best ones out of its own pocket. Instead of giving a person with $100 to pledge a chance to take a picture of Earth, why n0t run a more traditional STEM that reaches thousands of students who don’t have that kind of money? And why limit it to STEM? Do a business and economics education outreach effort.