Columnist José Salgado interviewed Marc Bell, Executive Chairman of Fuel Venture Capital portfolio company PredaSAR Corp., for Business Insider Mexico.
Below, find the English translation of the column. The original piece, written in Spanish, can be viewed via Business Insider Mexico.
If the space economy were a car, physicists would be the engine, engineers its wheels and investors, gasoline.
When we think of the space sector, it’s normal to imagine people with scientific baggage — and in most cases that is true — nevertheless, as more private companies are dedicated to building and operating space infrastructure, the need to access new capital has attracted the attention of investors with experience in other sectors.
That’s the case with Marc Bell, who started his career as an entrepreneur in a peculiar way. He and his friends enjoyed video games, but communication between teams was slow. They bought fiber optic cable and created their own access points. That’s how Marc Bell later founded Globix in 1989 — a global company that by 2000 had more than 45,000 kilometers of fiber optic deployed around the world and was the owner of the second-largest Internet data center in the world, hosting Microsoft and Walmart websites, among others.
With its headquarters in New York, Globix reached a market value of $2,500 million and if California had its Silicon Valley, Mark Bell was one of the founders of what is today known as New York’s “Silicon Alley”.
In 2003 he founded Marc Bell Capital, through which he invests in real estate, Internet, media, as well as space and entertainment companies. In fact, he won two Tony Awards for the production of the musicals “Jersey Boys” and “August: Osage County.”
A big fan of the Star Trek series, he not only collects memorabilia but also built in his home a replica of the vessel’s command center, which he uses as his home theater.
Today, he is also the owner of Terran Orbital, whose subsidiaries, PredaSAR and Tyvak, are two of the most important satellite construction and operation companies. A few months ago, PredaSAR announced the launch of the first private constellation of 48 SAR satellites operating on Earth’s low-orbit, utilizing a synthetic aperture radar. This type of radar has a broad commercial use in defense and also on a humanitarian level, given that they can be used at night and with cloudy skies. They operate in a similar way to bats.
According to Marc, “Space is the next frontier. Look at all the progress made this last decade and even the advancements taking place today. Terran Orbital has had great success. On an international level, more and more governments are investing in space. Europa has just granted Tyvak a contract that’s part of the HERA mission.”
HERA, part of the European Space Agency (ESA), looks to create a defense system against potential meteorite impact, with a cost of 153 million dollars.
Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems is today one of the largest nano satellite manufacturers (less than 10kg), with more than 220 of these in orbit.
In the Space Economy, we asked Marc what his considerations when investing in a company within this sector are.
“Credibility, rentability and return on investment. If the idea is credible, is there a market for it?, can you capitalize it? For example, cleaning up space debris is a credible business, but unfortunately its cost is larger than profits. Lastly, if the business is credible and profitable, how long will it take to make a return on the investment?”
“Based on what I know and what I have seen, the global space industry will be, without a doubt, larger than a trillion dollars by 2040,” he concluded.
The opinions published on this column are the responsibility of the author and do not represent Business Insider Mexico positions.