Elon Musk has been saying for years that he believes the future of the internet resides in space. And now he's planning to make a major change that could facilitate that transition sooner rather than later.
In a move that could send shock waves through the internet space, SpaceX is planning to spin out its Starlink satellite-based internet service into its own entity. It'll also make Starlink public, allowing investors to get a piece of what Musk believes is the future of internet connectivity.
"Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public," Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's chief operating officer, said on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. "That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public."
Starlink is SpaceX's name for a satellite-based internet service. The company envisions sending thousands of satellites into space that can beam internet access back to the ground. Those satellites will come together in a cluster over highly populated areas to ensure they deliver enough coverage. They'll also beam internet to less-populated parts of the world where people still aren't online.
So far, SpaceX has shipped 240 Starlink satellites into space, and plans to deliver many thousand more in the coming years. Musk has already tested the service, but it's not currently available to the public.
On Thursday, Shotwell didn't provide specifics, but did say that the service will be substantially cheaper than what existing internet access costs and will deliver speeds that are five to 10 times faster that what you get now, potentially putting it in the same game-changing class as 5G.
Shotwell didn't say when Starlink would go public, but all signs are pointing to sooner rather than later. And it makes sense.
As part of SpaceX, Starlink is just a component in a broader business. And while it gets attention at SpaceX, it's not the company's main focus. By spinning it off, SpaceX can have a company in Starlink that's focused solely on building an internet service in space. And perhaps most important, it could help expedite a process of upgrades that could take years to develop terrestrially.
For investors, it also means an opportunity to have a stake in SpaceX, a company that has remained private since its inception. As recent Tesla gains have proved, there's money to be made in Elon Musk's companies. And with Starlink's help, investors might be able to do it again.
Better yet for Starlink, it's an opportunity to raise much-needed cash.
Still, plenty of questions surrounding Starlink and SpaceX abound. And there's no guarantee that the company will actually go public. But look for more to come on that front -- and for satellites to be beaming internet to your house sooner rather than later.