🛰️ Virgin’s $3.7B space SPAC


August 25, 2021

The Hustle

A few emails ago, we told you about a 31-second song that uses the income from every ~100 streams to plant a tree. Afterward, we got word that you listened enough times to plant 200 trees.

Think about that. Y’all just built a forest.

Today’s rundown:

  • SPACe: Branson’s other space firm, Virgin Orbit, is going public.
  • Yikes: The 2 reasons Facebook had a less than ideal week.
  • No trade backs: The sports card market is booming — and changing.

Let’s do it.

Space SPAC
Bronson SPAC rocket

Branson’s Virgin Orbit launches to public with $3.7B SPAC deal

The latest in the Billionaire Space Race: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will go public via a SPAC merger expected to raise $483m for the company and valued at $3.7B.

Virgin Orbit will merge with SPAC company NextGen Acquisition and trade as NGCA before converting to VORB later this year, per CNBC.

Notably, Virgin Orbit is not the space tourism company that recently launched Branson into space 9 days before Jeff Bezos’ suborbital adventure.

Wait, how many space companies does this guy have?

Two, on top of Virgin Group’s many other endeavors, like Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Hyperloop, and Virgin Wines.

  • Virgin Galactic is the space tourism company that’s already sold 600 tickets at $250k each
  • Virgin Orbit is Galactic’s sister company that provides launch services for small satellites

How Virgin Orbit works

Instead of launching satellites from the ground, Virgin Orbit uses a modified Boeing 747 called “Cosmic Girl” to carry its rocket, “LauncherOne,” to an altitude of ~35k feet. The rocket then separates from the plane and brings the satellites to orbit.

LauncherOne can carry ~1.1k lbs each trip. In June, it successfully launched 7 satellites, including the Netherlands’ 1st defense satellite.

Virgin Orbit hopes to be profitable by 2024…

… and hit $2.1B in revenue by 2026. This year, it expects $15m in revenue, including $10m from national security/defense customers and $5m from commercial launches.

Hey, does Branson keep telling you how you can win a trip to space while you’re just trying to watch ASMR videos on YouTube, too?

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SNIPPETS

Another one: Amazon has officially entered the department store arena, opening locations in Ohio and California. #ecommerce-retail

Crypto cowboys: Crypto miners are moving to Texas in search of cheap power and lax regulation following a crackdown in China. #clean-energy

Starlink skyrockets: SpaceX has shipped 100k Starlink terminals to customers. #emerging-tech

Pay me in BTC: Substack announced it will now accept bitcoin for select newsletter subscriptions through a partnership with OpenNode. #fintech-cryptocurrency

The OG creator platform: YouTube’s Partner Program reached 2m+ creators. #big-tech

Facebook Fires
Facebook thumbs down

Facebook is having a bad week

The Zuck launched a VR office last week to much ridicule and many jokes.

While people got their laughs in, 2 other Facebook news stories are much less funny.

First: Botching a transparency report

Last year, New York Times reporter Kevin Roose frequently posted stats on Facebook’s top-performing pages, which were often “right-leaning pundits,” per The Verge. The social network didn’t like that framing and promised to release its own transparency reports.

On Aug. 18, Facebook followed through, releasing a report for the most popular content in Q2 2021. Leaked documents then showed that FB conveniently withheld the same report for Q1.

Why? Because that period’s top post involved vaccine misinformation. A FB spokesperson said they withheld it because “there were key fixes to the system we wanted to make.” (Many read that as “cover-up.”)

Second: a shady M&A move

In May 2020, Facebook acquired Giphy, the leading GIF platform. Many were concerned that the move was anti-competitive.

To avoid automatic regulatory scrutiny — which occurs at a minimum deal threshold — Giphy allegedly paid investors a dividend ahead of the deal to draw down its assets, per Bloomberg.

While no actual laws were broken, this news comes just as the FTC refiled its antitrust case against the social giant. No wonder Zuck wants to escape to VR land.

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Emerging Markets
sports cards

The sports card market is booming, with more ways to participate than ever before

NFTs aren’t the only collectible market that’s on fire right now. One class of physical assets has been thriving since early 2020: sports cards.

The recent boom is often credited to the early days of the pandemic and 3 key factors:

  • No sports to watch
  • Extra cash from government stimulus checks
  • Low interest rates, limiting the appeal of other investments

23 of the 24 biggest transactions in sports card history…

happened after February 2020, per Vox. Here are some examples:

  • August 2020: Mike Trout draft prospect card sold for $3.9m
  • April 2021: Tom Brady rookie card sold for $2.3m
  • April 2021: LeBron James rookie card sold for $5.2m

Part of the reason is systematic — in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the market cratered when card printers like Topps and Upper Deck flooded supply. Most cards printed between 1986 and 1992 are generally considered worthless.

Entrepreneurs are finding a variety of ways to play the market

Innovative businesses in the space include:

  1. Box-breaking: Vortex Sportcards purchases sealed-off boxes of cards, then charges customers to reserve a pack inside the box for a flat fee.
  2. Asset management: Josh Luber, co-founder of StockX, recently founded Six Forks Kids Club, an alternative asset management company focused on cards.
  3. Fractional trading: Collectable buys cards and converts them into tradable assets, allowing users to purchase shares of cards.
  4. Authentication & grading: Collectors Universe, acquired in December 2020 for $700m, is a 3rd-party collectible authentication and grading service.

If these strategies seem excessive, there’s always the old-fashioned way to capitalize in the sports card market: selling cards for more than you bought them for.

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Podcast

Someone please make Dunder Mifflin real…

Sam and Shaan share the missed opportunities in building brands off of pop culture.

Because Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. does 9 figures a year.

Plus, meet MicroAcquire founder Andrew Gazdecki

Learn how the boy from Detroit launched his startup-investor marketplace, and how he spends his money.

Or why Bill’s Lemonade is the winning biz-in-a-box model tons of services must hijack.

Watch MFM on YouTube →
AROUND THE WEB

🍜 On this day: In 1958, inventor and Nissin Food Products founder Momofuku Ando marketed “Chikin Ramen,” the 1st precooked instant noodles. He went on to launch Cup Noodle in 1971.

😮 Wow: Check out this stunning drone footage of Venezuela’s Angel Falls. At 3.2k feet, it is the tallest uninterrupted waterfall in the world.

💀 Haha: Which character is most likely to die in a movie? Definitely this guy.

💡 Reddit how-to: Here are 20 subreddits to find great internet nuggets (courtesy of the The Curiosity Chronicles).

🎨 That’s cool: Mark your calendar for Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day on Sept. 18, when 100s of US museums will be free. Score tickets now here.

✉️ Huh: Finding a message in a bottle seems like the stuff of fiction. But a group of Irish boys were thrilled to retrieve a message from a fisherman all the way in Canada!

Meme of the day
trading pokemon meme

The good ol’ days (Source: Reddit)

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Psst

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Data shows where markets are headed.

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