Starlink's Financial Journey: Growth and Setbacks
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Starlink, SpaceX's satellite internet arm, recorded a revenue of $1.4 billion in the previous year, as per documents examined by The Wall Street Journal. This marked a significant increase from the $222 million in 2021, but still fell $11 billion below its forecasted figures.
This disclosure coincided with a statement from SpaceX executive Jonathan Hofeller, who announced at a conference that the cost of manufacturing Starlink’s satellite antennas no longer exceeded their revenue. Though 2022 saw a dip in profitability, recent reports suggest that SpaceX began 2023 on a profitable note.
SpaceX's early expectations, presented to investors in 2015, were considerably more optimistic. The company anticipated Starlink's revenues to reach $12 billion and rake in an operating profit of $7 billion by 2022. Moreover, they projected 20 million subscribers by the end of that year. In reality, Starlink ended 2022 with just over a million subscribers, though this number grew to approximately 1.5 million by May 2023. Hofeller has since indicated that current subscriber counts have surpassed this figure.
Back in October 2022, Elon Musk took to Twitter to discuss Starlink's financial struggles, mentioning a monthly loss of around $20 million and referencing external financial support given to competitors. He also touched upon SpaceX's decision to provide free services to the Ukrainian government.
An excerpt from an upcoming book by Walter Isaacson, shared by The Washington Post, includes a quote from SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell. She recalls the Pentagon's readiness to provide significant financial support to SpaceX, which got complicated due to Musk's public comments and related controversies. However, Isaacson notes that government agencies ultimately began compensating for the expanded Starlink services in Ukraine.
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