Space tourism is ‘more than a thrill ride’ — it's about connecting to the planet: World View CEO
World View CEO Ryan Hartman and World View Chief Earth Advocate Adrian Grenier join Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the benefits of space tourism, making their balloon space flights available in 2024, the rise of crypto, and the impact of bitcoin mining.
ADRIAN GRENIER: Well, you know, I've been doing environmental work for a good 20 years. And I've been brought in to help World View with their environmental program, but also to welcome people when they come back to Earth so that they can continue their journey to rediscover Earth because World View's mission isn't to leave the planet and escape and get out of here. It's actually to peer back down and reflect upon our interconnectedness. And so the mission and the vision of World View is perfectly aligned with my heart, my spirit, and the work that I've been doing for a long time. - Ryan, I think we've got you back here. Let me just repeat that question there about how you separate yourself from some of your rivals. I mean, starting with price point, you're coming in much lower than somebody like Space Perspective. RYAN HARTMAN: Well, for us, it's all about creating attainable access. We believe that the benefits of space tourism are something that should be shared with as many people as possible. And so we've designed our space tourism business around the importance of where we're doing our operations and making it attainable for as many people as possible. So we have what we call Seven Wonders of the World Stratospheric edition, the seven incredible places around the world where we'll be doing our flights, and doing it at $50,000 per ticket with available financing. ALEXANDRA CANAL: And Ryan, what are some of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to space tourism, because with Jeff Bezos, all the publicity that Blue Origin has received, I think it's caused some people to view it as billionaires just throwing their money around. There are problems on Earth that we need to deal with first. What would you say to those critics and why human space travel is important right now? RYAN HARTMAN: Well, it's exactly what I would say-- is the misperception is the importance of it. You know, access to space gives us the opportunity to have a new perspective on our planet. It gives us an opportunity to better understand our planet. You know, I'm so interested in hearing Mark VanDeWeghe talk about his experience of spending a year, 365 days, on the International Space Station and to hear from people like him talk about the importance of space. But, you know, this is so much more than a thrill ride. This is so much more than, you know, just a trip to say that you've been to space. It's all about better understanding our Earth. It's all about creating a new perspective so that we might contribute to a radically improved future for our planet. - Adrian, you kind of alluded to some of the efforts you have really put your energy behind, especially on climate, obviously, addressing plastic pollution. But also, you've been pretty focused on the investment side through DuPont Ventures. What's really exciting you right now in this space? Where are you putting your money? ADRIAN GRENIER: Well, I mean, my money is definitely on World View because to have that unprecedented access to the common human to actually have this experience not only creates a critical mass of perspective change and cognitive shift in awareness to our interconnectedness, but also, it's a business model that will actually do really well because more people will be able to take the ride. ALEXANDRA CANAL: And Adrian, besides space and the environment, you're also a big fan of crypto, NFTs, Bitcoin. How do you defend digital currencies when people criticize the climate impact that they have, especially when we talk about Bitcoin mining, for example, that requires a lot of energy and processing power? ADRIAN GRENIER: Yeah. I mean, you know, I'm a realist in that I see the trade-off for all things, right? Like, you really do have to dive deep and make those trade-off decisions, ultimately. But I see crypto as being able to actually fix a lot of the systems that are broken currently and are quite wasteful across all industries. So crypto isn't just a thing that uses energy. It's a thing that will fix many industries to be more efficient. So if you look at the global net benefit, I think it's a positive one. ALEXANDRA CANAL: And Adrian, just to follow up on the growth that we've seen in digital currencies, we've seen an explosion of NFTs in the music industry. You star in "Clickbait," which takes a critical look at social media. That airs on Netflix, which is a streaming platform. It seems like we're in the midst of this digital revolution, so to speak. With your experience in Hollywood, how have you seen the industry adapt and evolve over time to keep up-- to really just keep up with that? ADRIAN GRENIER: Well, you know, there was a time when everybody and their dentist would come to me with a script, you know? My mother wrote a script or, you know, my uncle has this idea. And now it's NFTs. And everybody has an NFT. And everybody has a coin, which I think is exciting because it's really empowering people to be expressive and to communicate and to share value with one another without mental people or gatekeepers. - Ryan, finally, let's bring the conversation back to the experience that World View's building out right now. I'm looking at a $50,000 price point. You've got my attention because I can't afford the $250,000 for Blue Origin. What is that experience going to look like? And what's the timeline? RYAN HARTMAN: Well, so it's most important to understand that the experience itself is 68 hours long. And so it's going to give our customers an opportunity to truly take in the beauty of the earth, the fragility of the earth, and see it as a living organism and as something bigger than themselves. And so that's, I'll say, one of the most important components of our trip-- is 68 hours long. We're going to start commercial operations in 2024. Our first manned flights will be late 2023. And so it's just around the corner. - We look forward to seeing you both on board that flight. Adrian Grenier, World View chief Earth advocate, as well as World View CEO and President, Ryan Hartman, good to have you on today. And our thanks to Ali Canal, as well, for joining in on the conversation.