Just months after promising to give priority to retail investors in the future IPO of Starlink, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted that once the cash flow of the internet service becomes predictable, the satellite constellation will be publicly listed. Such a move would allow retail investors to hold a part in what could very well be a dominant player in the internet connectivity industry.
Musk’s update came as a response to a Twitter follower who asked if Starlink would soon reach the public markets. For his part, the CEO stressed that Starlink’s IPO could only happen once it was possible to forecast cash flow. Musk also noted that Starlink is a “staggeringly difficult technical & economic endeavor,” especially given that it has not been successful in any other satellite constellation project.
This is not the first time Starlink’s IPO has been listed by Elon Musk. Musk noted on Twitter last September that when sales growth is smooth and consistent, Starlink would IPO. Musk then added a pretty nifty detail, saying that when Starlink does its IPO, he would ensure that retail investors will be a top priority. “We will probably IPO Starlink, but only several years in the future when revenue growth is smooth & predictable. Public market does *not* like erratic cash flow haha. I’m a huge fan of small retail investors. Will make sure they get top priority. You can hold me to it,” Musk wrote.
In the past, Musk’s retail investor support has been well known, with small-time investors playing a role in some of the company’s main decisions. In spite of a $30 billion bid from companies such as Silver Lake and Volkswagen AG, for one, part of the reason behind Musk’s backing of Tesla’s short-lived privatization deal was because some retail investors would be driven out and forced to sell their TSLA shares. The CEO also sent a personal message to a friend leading up to Musk’s decision to abandon his take-private attempt, which included a few retail investors congratulating the CEO for the Model 3 milestone of Tesla. “Made my day,” Musk reportedly wrote.
More recently, Musk also came to the defense of retail investors when he grilled Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev about the decision of the stock investing platform to bar its users from buying a number of common and newsworthy stocks. Musk talked to several dissatisfied Robinhood investors during the interview, which was held in a Clubhouse session, stating that “people demand an answer and want to know the details and the truth.” Musk was successful to an extent, with Tenev offering details about the events that occurred before and after Robinhood prevented its users from purchasing selected stocks.