ABL Space Hits Unicorn Status, Scores National Space Agency Contract

Breanna De Vera

Breanna de Vera is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is currently a senior at the University of Southern California, studying journalism and English literature. She previously reported for the campus publications The Daily Trojan and Annenberg Media.

ABL Space Hits Unicorn Status, Scores National Space Agency Contract

Rocket launcher ABL Space Systems has achieved unicorn status, announcing a close of a $170 million Series B round, bringing the company's total valuation to $1.3 billion.

The funds come four years after ABL's founding and before its first planned launch into space in the second quarter of this year.


The El Segundo-based company said it's lined up 10 new customers, including the National Space Agency and U.S. Defense Department, for its launch vehicle called the RS1. Five of those new clients are commercial. They're on top of L2 Aerospace, ABL's first customer.

The rocket is able to be transported in shipping containers and can be sent from anywhere around the globe. It will launch two of L2 Aerospace's spacecraft into orbit.

ABL Space is competing against a few other private companies developing rockets. Virgin Orbit launched its LauncherOne rocket into orbit earlier this year. Relativity Space and Firefly Aerospace have launches scheduled for this year as well.

ABL chief executive Harry O'Hanley told CNBC that the additional funds will allow the company to scale up their launch cadence for future demand.

"It will also let us carefully start exploring more opportunities both in space tech and other domains," O'Hanley told CNBC.

T. Rowe Price Associates led the round, and Fidelity Management & Research and an unnamed global investment management firm joined as new investors.

Prior to this announcement, ABL had raised $49 million, with investors Venrock, New Science Ventures, Lynett Capital and Lockheed Martin Ventures. It also raised $44.5 million through contracts awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX, with participation from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

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Venture Firm Backstage Capital Cuts Three-Quarters of Staff

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Venture Firm Backstage Capital Cuts Three-Quarters of Staff
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Venture firm Backstage Capital laid off nine employees, reducing its staff to just three.

Managing partner and founder Arlan Hamilton announced the layoffs Sunday on her “Your First Million” podcast. General partners Christie Pitts and Brittany Davis, along with Hamilton, are the only remaining employees, TechCrunch reported. The move comes only three months after the Los Angeles-based firm said it would only fund existing portfolio companies.

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A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis
Image by Carolyn Figel

The pandemic exacerbated a problem that has been long bubbling in the U.S.: the childcare crisis.

According to a survey of people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers conducted by the city’s WiSTEM Los Angeles program and shared exclusively with dot.LA, the pandemic exposed a slew of challenges across STEM fields. The survey—which consisted of 181 respondents from L.A.County and was conducted between March 2021 and 2022— involved respondents across medical fields, technical professions and science industries who shared the pandemic’s effects on their professional or education careers.

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“Talent Is Ubiquitous; Access to Capital Is Not': MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Early-Stage Startups

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

“Talent Is Ubiquitous; Access to Capital Is Not': MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Early-Stage Startups
Courtesy of MaC Venture Capital

While venture capital funding has taken a hit this year, that hasn’t stopped MaC Venture Capital from raising $203 million for its second fund.

The Los Angeles-based, Black-led VC firm said Monday that it had surpassed its initial $200 million goal for the fund, which dot.LA reported in January, over the span of seven months. MaC said it expects to invest the capital in up to 50 mostly seed-stage startups while remaining “sector-agnostic.”

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