SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell is quoted as saying that the company is planning to spin out its Starlink satellite internet operation — which is currently centered in Redmond, Wash. — and offer shares in an initial public offering.
Bloomberg News reports that Shotwell floated the idea today at a private investor event hosted by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Miami. “Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public,” Shotwell was quoted as saying. “That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public.”
SpaceX’s main line of business is building and launching rockets — including the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and a super-rocket known as Starship that’s currently under development. But SpaceX executives, including Shotwell and billionaire CEO Elon Musk, have said Starlink could be a bigger money-maker. When Musk announced the Starlink plan in Seattle in 2015, he said revenue from the satellite operation could fund a city on Mars.
Thanks in part to Musk’s appeal as a tech guru, a Starlink IPO would probably generate huge interest. SpaceX has already launched 240 Starlink satellites and aims to start limited service this year. However, Reuters quoted an unnamed SpaceX source as saying a Starlink IPO won’t happen for several years — presumably after SpaceX and satellite broadband rivals such as OneWeb and Amazon demonstrate whether a profit can be made.