What the Voyager Acquisition Means for Altius

Two weeks ago, we publicly announced Voyager Space Holdings’ intention to acquire Altius. Voyager Space Holdings is a space-focused holding-company, led by one of my mentors, Dylan Taylor. Voyager is acquiring and providing financial and infrastructure support to space businesses like ours, and I’m excited that Altius will be the first to join their team. But for those of you have been following Altius over the years, many of you have been asking: what does this mean for Altius?

A Majority Investment Not A Buyout

The first key detail about this deal is that Voyager is acquiring a majority stake in Altius, but not buying us out completely. What this means is that we’ll still continue as Altius Space Machines, we’ll just now be part of the Voyager Space Holdings family of businesses. I will still be the CEO of Altius going forward, and I will also have a leadership role at Voyager over their satellite servicing group. And the remaining founders, and current and future employees and advisers, will share in the entrepreneurial upside as the company grows. Basically we get to preserve the DNA of the company, while proceeding forward on a much better footing.

An Acceleration Not an Exit

After the deal was announced, several people have asked me what my “next thing” will be. I’m happy to answer that my “next thing” will be my current thing, but with access to the resources we need to be successful. Altius will still be focused on developing our Bulldog servicing vehicle and cooperative servicing interfaces, and bringing them to market. The key difference is that once this transaction closes, Altius will be in a much better financial position, and we will have access to additional capital, support, connections, and synergies with other Voyager companies, that will allow us to move much faster than before. By being a semi-independent part of a larger company, I’ll be able to offload many of the back-office and fundraising tasks, so Mike and I can focus on growing the company, working with customers, developing new products and services, and developing new technologies.

Cross Pollination

Another big benefit of becoming part of Voyager will be the ability to beneficially spin-off some of the pieces we’re interested in but are outside of our core focus area. As a bootstrapped aerospace startup, we’ve often end up doing work in areas that are only tangentially related to satellite servicing and space robotics (ULA’s thruster gimbal, Heliogyro solar sails, Magnetoshell Aerocapture, ISRU, etc.). As Voyager acquires additional companies in our satellite servicing area and adjacent technical areas like launch, earth observation, etc., we will have a clear path to spin off technology pieces within Voyager that aren’t as core to our focus. There are also likely synergies between what we’re doing and other Voyager companies that we can leverage — like building satellite servicing into earth observation offerings, providing combination services that combine multiple verticals (launch, satellite production, and servicing), etc. We’ll still continue to partner with outside companies as well, but as Voyager grows, we’ll be able to offer more sophisticated product/service offerings.

In This For the Long Term

In a traditionally Angel or VC-backed startup, you are typically on a path that requires you to grow the valuation of your company quickly, and then find a way to allow your investors to sell. Selling their stock to someone at a higher valuation is the main way that angels or VCs make money on an investment. With space IPOs being rare, this typically means finding a bigger company to acquire you after you’ve grown quickly for a few years. This creates strong incentives to emphasize rapid growth over profitability and sustainability. And typically this also means that if you want to enter a second market area that’s not directly related to your initial market, you’re often encouraged to do this by selling your first company and then going and starting a new company to pursue that new market.

But with the Voyager approach, we’ll be in this for the long-haul. There’s no need for us to constantly be looking for an exit opportunity, because Voyager is structured in a way that should provide longer-term capital that doesn’t need to be returned in a short time window. Instead, we’ll be incentivized to grow Altius as a profitable, sustainable business, as a core piece of the larger Voyager family. Also, this means that once our satellite servicing offering is on a solid footing, if we wanted to expand into a new market area, such as orbital propellant depots, Altius could do this under the Voyager umbrella, without having to leave and start a new company, or partner with a larger traditional prime contractor.

Ultimately we’re really excited by this opportunity and what it will mean for Altius and achieving our vision for satellite servicing and space logistics. And we’re looking forward to working closely with Voyager and their family of space companies, as we grow together over the coming years.

~ Jonathan Goff

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