As It Heads Toward an IPO, Rocket Lab Takes Aim at SpaceX

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

As It Heads Toward an IPO, Rocket Lab Takes Aim at SpaceX
Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab, a Long Beach manufacturer of small rockets used to launch satellites, plans to go public through a SPAC merger that will value the company at $4.1 billion.

The move could position Rocket Lab, which hopes to eventually send people into orbit, as a larger player in space travel.


The deal with Vector Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company, is slated to close in the second quarter. Rocket Lab will be traded on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol RKLB.

The merger is expected to generate $750 million in cash — including $320 million from Vector about $470 million of PIPE led by San Francisco-based Vector, BlackRock, Neuberger Berman and other investors.

"This milestone accelerates Rocket Lab's ability to unlock the full potential of space through our launch and spacecraft platforms and catalyzes our ambition to create a new multi-billion-dollar business vertical in space applications," founder and CEO Peter Beck said in a press release.

Since its first orbital launch in 2018, Rocket Lab has conducted 18 launches and delivered 97 rockets into orbit for customers including the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA. Beck told CNBC that the company founded in 2006 was "on a very methodical path to a traditional IPO" before pivoting to a SPAC merger.

On Monday, Rocket Lab also unveiled its new 8-ton payload rocket called Neutron that it hopes will eventually carry astronauts, putting the company in direct competition with Hawthorne-based SpaceX. While its first vehicle, Electron, holds up 300 kg (660 lbs), this second model is designed for larger commercial and government payloads. The two-stage launch vehicle will carry up to 8,000 kg to low Earth orbit and is expected to debut in 2024.

Beck told CNBC that the company aims to ensure the Neutron is "certifiable for human spaceflight."

The capability to carry astronauts could put Rocket in closer competition with SpaceX, whose Falcon 9 was certified for human spaceflight by NASA last year.

Rocket Lab currently operates two launch sites, in New Zealand and Virginia, and is looking to build a new factory to support "large-scale" Neutron manufacturing. That move will usher in hundreds of new jobs, according to the company.

Electron is the second most launched rocket in the U.S. annually and the fourth most launched globally, according to the company.

"Rocket Lab solved small launch with Electron," Beck said in a statement. "Now we're unlocking a new category with Neutron."

Vector's chief investment officer, Alex Slusky, will also join Rocket Lab's board along with Sven Strohband of Khosla Ventures, David Cowan of Bessemer Venture Partners, DCVC's Matt Ocko and independent director Mike Griffin.

"Rocket Lab is ideally positioned to continue to capture market share in the rapidly expanding space launch, systems and applications markets," Slusky said in a statement announcing the news.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec

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.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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