Broadcast 2998 Esther Dyson

15 Oct 2017 Esther Dyson
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Guest:  Esther Dyson;  Topics: Commercial & NewSpace investing, industry details, due diligence, financing and capital acquisition, related industries & technologies.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com.   Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.   

We welcomed back to the show Esther Dyson for a comprehensive commercial and NewSpace business and investing discussion.  Esther started our one hour 70 minute program, talking about some of the changes in commercial and NewSpace over the past few decades since she first started investing in space businesses and projects.  As you might imagine, there have been lots of changes including changes in space law, an improvement in the management of companies, R&D is better and more efficient and cost effective, and there is more opportunity.  Don't miss all of what our guest said on this subject.

I asked our guest about space industry sectors.  This prompted interesting comments from our guest regarding business sectors.  Esther also said it was better to be a team leader in an industry segment than to be just a team in a segment.  Again, don't miss all of what our guest said about this area.  A listener asked Esther for her thoughts on the new potential that may come about from equity based crowdfunding.  Esther did not think much of it but listen to what she said about investing as well as equity crowdfunding.  The risk reward ration and success stats might make someone think before parting with their money.  Note also her comments about investing in multiple opportunities to spread the risk, not just one. Listener Josh from Tucson asked about space tourism. Esther had much to say, especially since she had invested in Xcor as well as World View. She again addressed issues relating to risk.  Another question came up about cubesats.  I suggested the industry might be overheated with too many players given low barriers to entry.  Esther talked about possible mergers and acquisitions and an increasing difficulty in telling one company from another.  This led me to ask her about the many space business consulting companies I hear from on TSS on a regular basis.  I suggested that there might be too few companies with the money to pay for a consultant so the market here might also be saturated.  She had some very interesting comments to off about consulting companies so don't miss what she had to say in response to the question.

Esther brought up ITAR as still being daunting, especially for the smaller companies.  Doug then wanted to know if the commercial space industry largely made up of comsats was contributing to space settlement.  Don't miss what our guest had to say in response to Doug's question.  While the two were somewhat related, the comsat industry was not really a driver for space settlement.  Esther then talked about other fields that contribute to space settlement but might not be a space industry on their own. She talked about synthetic biology as an example.  This led to additional questions about the field of biology and other segments of the terrestrial economy, including AI, contributing to commercial space and settlement but not actually being a space business.  This was a very interesting discussion so don't miss it.

Another listener asked about Public Private Partnership investment opportunities.  Esther said caution was in order. Not all PPO projects are successful so it would depend on the project and the management team.  She also reminded us that government participation or bailouts are not assured.

Beverly in Boston sent in a note about trusting management and track records.  Esther really liked this area of discussion.  Among the subtopics was the issue of failure.  You might be surprised that early failures may teach lessons to people and make them very good in their next effort.  You do not want to miss this entire discussion.  Following up, Don wanted to add in assumption making.  Esther confirmed that understanding the assumptions and having access to them was key to evaluating a project and trusting management. 

As our hour was nearing a close, Esther was asked about differences in space law in the US and internationally, especially over some of the deep space mining and property rights issues.  Esther said the problem deserves careful observation and study as problems could emerge that adversely impact businesses. 

Wanda asked about the use of the term STEAM rather than just STEM.  This opened up a good discussion near the end of the show.  John from Ft. Worth called in to express his thoughts on the subject as did Marshall from the Dallas area.  Esther and I thought STEAM was very important but you do not want to miss what everyone was saying and contributing on this topic as the show was drawing to a close. 

Before the show ended, Adrian wanted to know how some of the new technologies like gene editing for radiation resistance on long duration spaceflight, Crisper, AI, etc. might be thwarted by people fearing these technologies and trying to stop their development.  Earlier Adrian had sent in a note about using a crypto currency in space.  Don't miss what Esther had to say on both these topics.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can reach Esther Dyson through me or the addresses listed in her full bio posted on our website.

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