4 Ridiculous Comments that Almost Killed a $12 Billion Week

  • Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck and his team grew their rocket launch startup to the point that it will go public via SPAC at an estimated $4 billion valuation as announced last Monday, March 1. Bessemer’s David Cowan and I co-led this December 2014 investment and were both part of Rocket Lab’s board.
  • The Spire founding team of Peter Platzer, Jeroen Cappert, and Joel Spark have grown their data-focused small satellite constellation startup to the point that it will go public via SPAC at an estimated $1.6 billion valuation as announced last Monday, March 1. David Cowan and I co-led this June 2015 investment and were both part of Spire’s board (with extra thanks to Josh Benamram for his work on diligence and the broader Bessemer space roadmap).

Warning: Ridiculous Comments Ahead

#1 — “Sunil, you’re so lucky you get to invest in cool things. I have to invest in things that actually make money.”

Many VCs have said this to me during my time at Bessemer (2011–2017) and continue to do so with Ubiquity Ventures. Today, I do have early investments that put software in space, software on cows, software in cars, and more. Yes it is pretty cool to make software ubiquitous. But it’s the suggestion that these kind of startups don’t make money that makes this comment ridiculous:

#2 — “Sunil, didn’t a rocket just blow up last week. Rocket Lab must be risky.”

Yes they did blow up. Two in fact. Just months before we chose to invest over $10 million in Rocket Lab.

Yes the Antares explosion really looked like this. October 28, 2014. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

#3 — “Sunil, you’re too young to remember, but Iridium lost $5 billion in the ’90s, so space is hard.”

One of the best things about the startup world is that experience doesn’t matter that much.

#4 — “Auth0 must change its name to something that sounds better”

In closing

It’s been one heck of a week with $12 billion of exits despite several years of ridiculous comments. Last week, I wrote about how Rocket Lab and Spire demonstrate the power of “software beyond the screen” and how Auth0’s $6.5b acquisition demonstrates the power of “nerdy and early” investing.

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Ubiquity Ventures

Ubiquity Ventures

Ubiquity Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on “software beyond the screen” — turning real world physical problems into software problems.