Elon Musk’s SpaceX has dominated the buzz around private companies targeting space. But dozens of other startups have received investment: these include space-debris cleanup specialist Astroscale and satellite-imagery companies Planet Labs and Skybox Imaging (the latter was acquired by Google in 2014 for $500M).
Overall, deal activity has increased for three straight years now, with 2015 already reaching a four-year high in both deals and dollars invested into space companies at nearly $1.17B across 21 deals, largely anchored by SpaceX’s $1B Series D from Google and Fidelity Investments.
Despite the uptick in deals and dollars, just five VC-backed space companies have raised $20M or more. Musk’s space-travel startup SpaceX is far and away the leader, with over $1.18B raised to date. Planet Labs and Spire, both developing and utilizing “CubeSats,” small and affordable satellites used for imaging and data analysis, round out the top 3.
Most Well-Funded VC-Backed Space Companies
|Company||Total Funding ($M)||Select Investors|
|SpaceX||$1,185||Founders Fund, Rothenberg Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson|
|Planet Labs||$183||Founders Fund, Felicis Ventures, Lux Capital|
|Spire||$29.4||RRE Ventures, Promus Ventures|
|SpaceFlight Industries||$20.25||RRE Ventures, Razors Edge Ventures,|
|Dauria Aerospace||$20||I2BF Global Ventures|
Although the ecosystem is fairly young, there are several VCs who have made multiple investments into the space. RRE Ventures has been active, with investments in Spaceflight Industries (CubeSat development & launch services), Accion Systems (satellite propulsion), and Spire in the past 12 months. In addition to RRE, Lux Capital, a firm with a heavy focus on “frontier tech” companies, has made multiple bets recently. These included investing alongside Google Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Bloomberg Beta, and citizen.vc in an $8.7M Series A going to Orbital Insight, as well as investing in Planet Labs’ $70M Series C in January 2015.
The most active investors by unique-company space investments are listed below.
Most Active Space Company VCs since 2012
|2||Bessemer Venture Partners|
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