What are the Financing Challenges Awaiting Publicly Listed Space Startups? Looking Back on the SmallSat Symposium 2024 # 2

Warpspace Inc.
3 min readFeb 21, 2024

Warpspace CSO Mori promptly participated in the SmallSat Symposium 2024, an event for small satellite operators to be held February 6–8 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, USA. The event is sponsored by SatNews, a media company that covers a wide range of satellite-related news.
SmallSat Symposium is attended by many people involved in management and industry. Based on an interview with Mori, who participated in the event on-site, this report describes the “polarization of the space industry” that should be checked as the latest trend in the small satellite market.

(Click here for the first part.)

(Click here for the article on SmallSat Symposium 2023 held last year)

Space-related businesses, which are currently developing around the world, have reached a major turning point from last year to this year, Mori said. Especially at this year’s SmallSat Symposium, he said, there was much discussion among industry professionals and investors about the “polarization of the space industry.

The past trend of “the entire industry being evenly funded” has changed dramatically, as evidenced by the announcement of 530 layoffs at NASA on February 6, 2024. Mori commented on this,

Certainly, the industry is shaken, with two companies in the US filing for bankruptcy. However, this does not mean that the industry as a whole is leaning, but rather that a “shakeout” has begun. In the past, the space business industry was unsure of what kind of services would be demanded, but in recent years, investors have begun to understand what kind of services users are looking for and what the demand is like.

This trend has made it difficult to raise funds. This trend is expected to require companies that are unable to raise funds to make major business decisions, such as changing operations, laying off employees, or in the worst case, going bankrupt.

Meanwhile, Mori considers that the polarization of the Japanese space industry is probably a few more years away. Last year, Japan saw a string of fundraising activity, with ispace going public on April 12, Ridge-i on April 26, and QPS Research Institute on December 6.

However, Mori explains that listing is precisely the route that will lead to the start of the shakeout. According to Mori,

Once we go public, we will be in the public eye, and we will be competing for funds with other industries, such as the semiconductor industry. There, many capitalists will evaluate the company purely from the perspective of “Is it a profitable business? Therefore, the magic trick that has been common in the space startup industry up to now, is, “the company value will increase even though it is not profitable,” will no longer be available.

It is said that several companies in the Japanese space startup industry are preparing to go public this year. While going public is a goal of sorts for these companies, it is also the starting line for more intense competition. How many startups will survive and be “selected” in such competition? It will be interesting to see how the industry will evolve in the future.

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Warpspace Inc.

Warpspace develops “WarpHub InterSat”, an optical inter-satellite data relay service. We will realize this service for LEO Sat operators by 2025.