Elon Musk's Eventful 72-Hours: Satellite Launches, Space Tourism, AI Dangers and Bill Gates' New Car

Joe Bel Bruno
Joe Bel Bruno is dot.LA's editor in chief, overseeing newsroom operations and the organization's editorial team. He joins after serving as managing editor of Variety magazine and as senior leadership in spots at the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. He's a veteran journalist that loves breaking big stories, living back in L.A., a good burrito and his dog Gladys — not necessarily in that order.
Elon Musk's Eventful 72-Hours: Satellite Launches, Space Tourism, AI Dangers and Bill Gates' New Car

Elon Musk had a pretty busy holiday weekend.

The billionaire entrepreneur sounded the alarm about artificial intelligence, finished boring a tunnel under Las Vegas, launched 60 satellites into the atmosphere, and unveiled plans for space tourism. He even found time to pick a Twitter fight with Bill Gates over a Porsche.


Musk also fared well on Wall Street Tuesday. Tesla's stock, which has been on a wild ride during the past six months, shot past $855 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq. Three analysts — who have mostly been bearish on the electric car maker — increased their price target on the company. Among them was Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, who predicts the stock will hit $730 during the next 12 months.

But, it was Musk's Hawthorne-based SpaceX that made the most news on Tuesday. The company reported it is teaming up with a space tourism company to sent private citizens into orbit on free-flying missions that would take them far above the International Space Station. The first flight could take place as early as late 2021, carry up to four people on an autonomously piloted Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission that lasts up to five days.

"This historic mission will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it, and we are pleased to work with the Space Adventures team on the mission," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's president and chief operating officer.

The Virginia-based Space Adventures said the four-person mission would enable tourists to "see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program."

The announcement follows up on governmental efforts to commercialize space operations in low Earth orbit, and on the Crew Dragon's successful uncrewed demonstration mission to and from the space station last year.

On Monday, SpaceX launched 60 more satellites for its Starlink internet broadband constellation on a Falcon 9 rocket Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This brings the total number of satellites at 300.

Musk earlier that day turned his attention to the potential dangers of artificial intelligence. He took to Twitter to warn that Open AI, one of the world's leading labs that he helped launch, needs to focus on safety.

He said the company "should be more open" and that his confidence OpenAI will prioritize safety "is not high." The company is currently researching how to provide human-level intelligence to machines.

Musk tweeted as a response to an MIT Technology Review report that claims OpenAI is too secretive about a project whose original goal was to be more transparent. The company was launched in 2015 with a list of billionaire donors like Peter Thiel and tech giants like Microsoft.

As for Bill Gates, Musk didn't like his choice of auto purchases. Gates told a YouTube influencer earlier in the week that he bought a Porsche Taycan, an electric vehicle that runs into the six-figures to purchase. Gates called it "very, very cool."

Musk tweeted his displeasure: "My conversations with Gates have been underwhelming tbh."

GeekWire's Alan Boyle contributed to this report.

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March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups
March Capital founder Jamie Montgomery. Illustration by Dilara Mundy.

Santa Monica-based venture outfit March Capital announced Feb. 3 that it raised its largest fund to date, a $650 million investment vehicle that will be used to back up to 15 startups focused on delivering new uses of artificial intelligence.

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Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

The Three Best Ways to Work With Your Startup Board

When launching and running a startup, your board of directors is one of your most valuable assets. If you already understand why you need a board and how to structure your board, it may be tempting to think you can cross that item off the list. But building a board is just the beginning. Now you’ve got to get down to business—together.

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow 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.

This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M
This Week in ‘Raises’:

While it was a slow week of funding in Los Angeles, security vendor Saviynt managed to score $205 million that will be used to meet the company’s growing demand for its converged identity platform and accelerate innovation.

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