Investors may be about to buy a bigger stake in SpaceX.
Elon Musk’s 12-year-old venture is in discussions with investors to see if they’re interested in sinking fresh cash into the space transportation company, Quartz has learned.
The Hawthorne, California-based company, known more formally as Space Exploration Technologies, has reached out to venture capital funds who invested money during previous rounds, a source familiar with the fund raising told Quartz. The investment round is expected to close in the next few weeks and could raise anywhere from $50 million to more than $200 million, a source said.
The deal could see investors purchase private shares from employees who hold otherwise illiquid stakes in the company. In addition to such a “liquidity round” of funding, SpaceX could also raise some fresh money outside of those existing shares, a source noted. It’s not uncommon for privately-held companies like SpaceX to seek buyers for employee shares, allowing employees to cash out and permitting existing investors to build their ownership stakes.
It was not immediately clear what impact the new investment would have on SpaceX’s implied valuation. After SpaceX completed a $30 million liquidity round of funding in late 2012, PandoDaily reported that the company’s implied valuation had risen to somewhere between $4 billion and $5 billion.
A request for comment from SpaceX was not returned.
Musk used much of the hundreds of millions he pocketed from the sale of the online payment system Paypal to eBay to kick off SpaceX in 2002. And much like his automotive venture, Tesla Motors, SpaceX has flirted with failure at times. Musk admitted in a recent interview with 60 Minutes that SpaceX was close to bankruptcy as recently as 2008. ”We were running on fumes at that point, we had virtually no money,” Musk said.
Now things are looking up. SpaceX got a lift from a number of plum contracts including a partnership with NASA. And a SpaceX unmanned rocket–dubbed Dragon–became the first private unmanned vehicle to dock with the International Space Station.
Given SpaceX’s recent success and the solid showing of Tesla, which Musk took public four years ago, perhaps it’s not too wild to speculate that another SpaceX launch, as a public company, could be in the cards.