James Kotecki (00:00): 

Hey everybody, it's James Kotecki. And before we start today's show, a quick word for women and diverse founders who are looking for investment in their business. Women and diverse founders do not attract the same level of venture funding as other founders, and that's why the Consumer Technology Association, which owns and produces CES and this very podcast, is investing up to $10 million into venture firms and funds that support underrepresented founders, women-led startups, and diverse leadership teams. So if you are a venture fund or firm seeking new investment, you can complete and application at cta.tech/fund. 


This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki. CES 2024 is January 9th through 12th in Las Vegas and it's time to build the hype. So let's get excited for the world's most influential tech event. And speaking of excitement, do you want to see the earth from space for real? Sure we all do. But how? Well, how about getting a ride from a space balloon? You may remember it last season on this podcast we talked about this company Space Perspective. So imagine a pressurized capsule for eight people propelled by a space balloon. It's designed to take people to the edge of space for what will presumably be the greatest six hours of their lives. And I'm super excited now to talk to the founder and CEO of Space Perspective, Jane Pointer, along with Kirby Harris, who is the founder and managing partner of Base Ventures and was Space Perspective's very first investor. Welcome to you both. 

Jane Poynter (01:48): 

Hey there, great to be here. 

Kirby Harris (01:51): 

Hey Jane. Hey James. Thanks for having us. 

James Kotecki (01:54): 

Really, really been looking forward to this conversation. And of course we want to get into it with you Jayne, exactly about how this is going to work, what this is going to look like, what this thing is. But Kirby, I want to start with you because there are plenty of wildly ambitious ideas out there. You actually invested in this though. So why did you decide to put money behind this particular concept? 

Kirby Harris (02:16): 

Yeah, look, that's a great question. Like you said, we get a ton of wild and crazy ideas that have the potential for us to fund, but there are very few people who are uniquely qualified to make those things happen. And Jane and the team, Taber and the Space Perspective team have a 20 plus year background in building space companies starting when they started Paragon Space Systems and on and on and Worldview, which we funded as well. 


So when Jane and Taber came into our office with the idea of giving this view to the world, we thought that one, it was something that's important given Jane's background as part of the Biosphere 2 project and how that changed her view of the world, given that same Space Perspective to a larger audience all made making this investment important for us and doable. And then if you look at the numbers, you see that Jeff Bezos is spending $1 billion dollars a year putting for space tourism. You see, Virgin Galactic's valuation is multi-billion dollar valuation. SpaceX is rumored going to be valued at more than $100 billion. So there's also value in money to be made in the space. So between the team, the market and the experience in making humanity or a better human experience between all those things, it all made it super exciting for us to make this investment in the team. 

James Kotecki (03:51): 

So Jane, let's just get into the basics here. What does this thing look like and how far along are we in terms of it becoming a reality to actually take people up? Can you just give us the basic elevator pitch here? Especially for folks who are only listening, we'll hopefully put some visuals on the screen for people who can watch this video version. But what is Space Perspective? What are you doing? 

Jane Poynter (04:13): 

Yeah. So we're actually completely redefining space travel for people so that it's really accessible, it's safe, it's also carbon-neutral. And the way we do that is, as you said in your intro, we use a space balloon. So in the picture behind me that's a rendering. It's really hard to take that picture in space. So there's a space balloon that when it's fully inflated at altitude, it is the size of a small football stadium. And then underneath that you can just see underneath that, that little tiny capsule it looks like there. It's actually not little tiny, it is quite big. It seats eight people and a captain. It's 16 feet in diameter. It's this beautiful round capsule with giant windows. It has the largest windows that will have ever flown to space. I actually made Kirby a promise that because he is quite tall, so I told Kirby that when he goes in Spaceship Neptune, as we call the capsule, he will be able to stand in these windows without ducking. 


I think we're there, we haven't tested it yet, but I think we're there, Kirby. And then on the bottom there is a splash cone because we splash in the water. So it's this beautiful, it's actually really gorgeously designed, but from an experience point of view, what's so critical for the people that fly on this, it is completely different from how people generally imagine space flight, right? You normally imagine it rockets, high-gs, spacesuits, lots of training, none of that, none of that at all. 


You are just very gently going to space at 12 miles an hour. So you're going at cycling speed to space. And then on the inside of the capsule, we wanted to completely reimagine that experience for people. So it's a space lounge. We normally think of a capsule as sort of white, utilitarian, people all kind of jammed in there. No, no, no, no, no. Let's go to space in style. So we have a space lounge, so it has a bar, it has a loo, which we call a spa. It's just this really beautiful environment for people to be super welcoming as they are looking out over our planet, having a similar view to what's in the picture behind me and just really having that transformational experience of seeing our planet from that vantage point. 

James Kotecki (06:49): 

A couple more questions immediately pop to mind. I'm sure first of all, when you introduce this concept to people, I'm sure they have a million questions for you, but a few that immediately pop to mind, is this balloon tethered to anything? How is it being controlled? 

Jane Poynter (07:05): 

So it is only tethered to the capsule, so it's buoyancy. So it is filled with a gas that's lighter than air. So it literally just floats up and it sits on top of the atmosphere. So think of it somewhat like an ice cube floating on the top of your glass of water. It literally just sits there. So it takes two hours to get up there. Then you're up there for a couple of hours having a cocktail, looking out the window, having this amazingly experience, and then about two hours to come back down. 

James Kotecki (07:34): 

Okay. And so when the captain is controlling it on the way down, and I'm not a balloonist even in terrestrial settings, so I'm not really sure how this works. Does the captain have control over where it lands? Are you at the mercy of, I don't know if that far up wind is a factor anymore, but certainly when you're coming up and down at some point weather is a factor. How do they control where it lands and how it lands? 

Jane Poynter (07:58): 

Yeah, exactly. So what's actually critically important is to know where it's going to land. So you have to know with great precision where it's going to be at the end of that flight. So we actually launch from a ship and then we splash in the ocean because that is super safe. You're now flying over the ocean. Prior to the flight... There's been so much incredible work done over the last 10 years on weather models that we have an extremely good weather model for about 12 hours now. We also fly our own weather balloons. 


So we get this really extensive look at what's happening with the weather all the way up through much beyond the altitude that we fly to and through the period of time that we're flying. And then we have a really extensive algorithm that takes all of that, takes the physics of the balloon and the flight and actually does do pinpoint accuracy on where it's going to splash. And then we have the ship right there with a big old crane on it, picks the capsule up, puts it on the deck, and then everybody disembarks on the deck. So it's also super easy for everybody. 

James Kotecki (09:09): 

A couple more basic questions than I want to get back to you Kirby, and I'm sure I'll have more of these kinds of questions but- 

Kirby Harris (09:15): 

Way more interesting. 

James Kotecki (09:18): 

So tell us the basics of where will people take off, when will the first people actually take off in this thing? And of course everyone I'm sure wants to know how much is this going to cost? 

Jane Poynter (09:31): 

Yeah. So our first flights are going to go from the Florida area. So actually I'm speaking to you from right adjacent to Kennedy Space Center on the Space Coast in Florida. So we're on the East Coast at Cape Canaveral, so we'll be flying all around here in The Bahamas, down by the Keys. So you'll get that incredible view of looking down on Florida, which most Americans I think would truly recognize. And it's interesting when you talk to astronauts about what's really moving, of course seeing our planet in that context of space is just unbelievable for people. And it's like this massive boing aha moment. 


But then seeing something you recognize is also super important. So we're starting here in Florida and then we will eventually be going elsewhere around the planet. And our first flights are still on track for around the end of 2024. People can buy their tickets now. They can just go to our website spaceperspective.com and buy your ticket to space right online, which is super awesomely cool. And right now the ticket price is $125,000 a seat and you just need to put down a deposit. So it depends when you want to fly anywhere from $1,000 to 60,000, depends on when you want to fly, but the ticket prices is still the same. 

James Kotecki (10:54): 

And how many tickets have you booked so far? 

Jane Poynter (10:56): 


James Kotecki (10:59): 

Wow. So these flights are going to be happening quite frequently to meet that demand? 

Jane Poynter (11:04): 

Oh yeah. Oh look, let me tell you, there is so much demand for this. Hardly anybody knows about us yet and we've already sold that many tickets. So the demand is huge and this market is just so vibrant that it is going to be supply side constrained for many years to come, which is a great position for us and for our investors. 

James Kotecki (11:31): 

Yes, so great transition. So back to you Kirby, as an investor, as you've watched this company grow and try to bring this dream to fruition, what has stood out to you, surprised you? What have you learned by watching this particular team? 

Kirby Harris (11:44): 

They've been innovative. This is a super exciting time to be in this space and to see how much attention has been paid to the space journey since we made that first investment. We had some great milestones around space tourism. So how much space has become part of the forefront of our conversation today? That's been really exciting and really something that gives us a lot of hope and just inspiration for what Jane and the state prospective team is going to bring to fruit. 

James Kotecki (12:18): 

And Kirby, are you on one of those early flights? Do you have your ticket booked? 

Kirby Harris (12:22): 

You know what, I actually I bought my mother. My mother retired recently and I bought her a ticket, so my ticket for her. So she will be on one of the early flights. 

James Kotecki (12:35): 

Wow. So that's incredibly soon, the end of 2024. Are there, and I guess this is a question for both of you. So we talked about different kind of modalities of getting into space, different ways of thinking about space tourism. Is anyone else thinking about it in the same way that Space Perspective is? Do we expect to see the competitive space balloons going up across the world? 

Jane Poynter (13:00): 

So I think the short answer is eventually there'll be somebody who figures this out. There are several websites out there, but we are going really fast. Literally, I know everybody says they have a great team. Seriously, we have an insane team both on the actual technical side, our head of composite manufacturing did that for SpaceX for many years. The person that's doing all of our marine operations did stood that up for SpaceX. The person who does our balloon manufacturing is literally the best person in the world at that. And then on our experience team side, which we call of our marketing and sales and all of that, our COO ran Vice Media for 15 years, which I think everyone would agree is a truly iconic brand. So for us it's not only do we have frankly an incredible technology and an amazing team and we're way ahead of anybody else, it's also about the brand . with Hosi and his team, he's building an incredible brand, which I'm really, really excited about. 

James Kotecki (14:17): 

And Kirby, as an investor, when you think about how to give advice to a portfolio company, especially something that is so novel here, how do you think about the way that you offer advice to a company trying to do something like this? How has that been? 

Kirby Harris (14:32): 

Yeah, so again, great question. We know how technically excellent that Jane and Taber and the Space Perspective team is, and we couldn't hope to offer any advice in building the technical side of the business. Where we came in, where we know we can, and I know where Jane knew we can add value and offer advice is one shepherding her through the venture capital landscape. In our experience of as much experience she has in space and building these wonderful transformative space companies, we have the same amount of experience building in venture capital. So we're able to shepherd her through the venture capital experience. And then again, as technically sound as the team is in Space Perspective, especially at the early team, they didn't have a lot of experience building luxury brands. And we've invested in a bunch of luxury brands, we've helped founders build incredible brands. So on the consumer side, we were able to add a lot of our know-how about the consumer experience and what it means to build these incredible iconic brands. And then there's just being that steadfast confidant that we act as and we have conversations. 

James Kotecki (15:50): 

Yeah and just from this conversation it doesn't seem like Jane lacks any confidence, but I imagine also just to be there as a person who's believing in this concept that other people might say is crazy. 

Kirby Harris (15:59): 

Jane doesn't lack confidence, but we don't lack confidence in Jane either. So as much confidence as she has, I think in her ability and the great team that she's assembled, we have a similar degree of confidence in her and the team that she's building. 

Jane Poynter (16:19): 

Thank you, Kirby. So if I can just say James, that I can speak for both Taber and I to say that I can't tell you how much we appreciated that Kirby and Eric and the team at Base Ventures stepped forward first. I also want to remind us when they stepped forward, they didn't just step forward where they a check and there was piles of other money standing there. Okay, I'm just going to say it. They gave us a term sheet the day before the stock market dropped 20%. They could have pulled it and they didn't. It was incredible. So it was amazing trust that you guys had, Kirby. Somehow we pulled it off and here we are and it was amazing. So really from the depths, from the core of our souls, we thank you for really believing in us. 

Kirby Harris (17:17): 

Yeah, we got the call of "Everything okay? You guys still going to be..." We're like, "Yeah, no problem." 

James Kotecki (17:24): 

That speaks volumes to the relationship and to the belief in this project. Kirby did mention luxury brands, and I want to go one level deeper on that luxury experience that people onboard the capsule will be having. So Jane, you mentioned people can be up there sipping cocktails. Are they going to feel the effects of lessened gravity at that altitude? Paint us a little bit more of a picture on what folks will be doing in the capsule other than just kind of standing slack jawed and looking at the earth, which if it was me, I'd probably be doing that the entire time. 

Jane Poynter (17:54): 

Yeah. So we're actually feel that we're quite fortunate that we don't have to deal with microgravity on this flight because it's actually quite disorienting for some people. So as I like to joke, you don't have to have your champagne in a sippy cup. So yeah, the experience is really interesting. When we look at our customers, people want very different things and in very loosely cluster into two very different types of people. So on the one end of the spectrum, you have people that are going up to really have this incredibly meditative experience. It's going to be them literally bonding with the people up there with them and the world outside the window. That's what they're there for and that's what they're going to do. And then on the other end of the spectrum, we have people that are going up to celebrate in space, whatever that is for them, whether that's- 

Kirby Harris (18:54): 


Jane Poynter (18:54): 

Yes, exactly. It's a wedding, it's a birthday, it's a proposal. It's just a "I'm going up with my buddies." So it's very different. And clearly the two must not mix because all that would not be good. And so those are going to be quite different experiences for people. We can also customize the interior. So it is set up for eight people with a bar and lots of information and playlists and it's going to be a telescope, all of those kinds of things. And of course the captain will curate it for people, but it can be completely customized inside as well. 

James Kotecki (19:28): 

Will people be able to see the stars from there or is it the telescope is meant to look down at the earth? 

Jane Poynter (19:36): 

No, I think it's both. So yes, you can see stars now, it depends on kind of what's going on outside, but one of the things we want to do is have some flights get up to altitude, pre-dawn, because then you don't have, let's call it what it is, the light pollution from the sun. So the sun is- 

James Kotecki (19:58): 

Darn sun, always ruining it. 

Jane Poynter (19:59): 

Polluting the sky with all the light. Right. And so in that scenario, when you're up there, it's just going to be mind-blowing, especially if there's no moon out. I mean it's just going to be insane. So the telescope will definitely be handy. 

James Kotecki (20:19): 

And do you need any regulatory or legal clearances or are you all set there? Especially if you're on track for the end of 2024? It would seem like most of that may be in hand at this point, but do you have to jump through any remaining hurdles on that front? 

Jane Poynter (20:34): 

Yeah, of course. So we're highly regulated. We're regulated by the FFA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. So that would be the same as any other company that's flying people to space or SpaceX, et cetera. So that it's a very well understood regulatory environment and we've already started the process. We're able to do a lot of that with our uncrewed test flights that were starting this summer. So you're going to see a lot coming from us the remainder of this year as we really get into test flights. And those test flights are for really dialing in the experience as well as really testing all of the backup systems for this vehicle. And that then really gets us most of the way through the FAA who sort of comes along with us giving us feedback and input. We'll work with them through that. And then we do some human crude test flights starting around Q2 next year leading up to then to our commercial flights. 

James Kotecki (21:38): 

CES 2024 is in Q1 of 2024. So based on where you are and the timeline and are you planning to do anything at CES? What can we expect? Is there going to be a booth? What can we look forward to from you there? 

Jane Poynter (21:54): 

Well, of course we're going to do something. We actually were there this year in '23. It was really exciting. We had a really good presence there. Sure. 

James Kotecki (22:06): 

Okay, great. Can you give our listeners or viewers anymore? Or do they just have to show up and- 

Jane Poynter (22:11): 

Oh no, you got to stay tuned- 

James Kotecki (22:12): 

Keeping it a secret. 

Jane Poynter (22:13): 

... because it's a secret at this point. 

James Kotecki (22:19): 

I'll just say just my supposition. Given the focus that you have on experience, I imagine that will definitely be an experience people will be talking about. Speaking of CES, I want to ask you Kirby. So Base Ventures is one of the funds that the Consumer Technology Association has invested in order to boost women and diverse founders. And the Consumer Technology Association, CTA also produces CES, and also produces this podcast. CTA produces this podcast. So that's a roundabout way of asking you this question. People talk about the business value of diverse perspectives, and I'm curious from your perspective, how do you leverage that idea of diversity when you're looking at investment decisions? 

Kirby Harris (23:01): 

No, that's a really good question and something that we address every day. Today people, they want diversity and thought. And to bring these great technologies to bear for a global audience, you really need diverse perspectives and bring in a bunch of differing views and different experiences, life experience together to bring forth the best companies and the best products for the broadest audience. And we're able to do that and we're able to access networks and people and experiences that vary wildly. And we think that the next generation of founders and technology and companies are going to come from non-traditional areas and we'll be there to capture them with our team that is incredibly diverse. 

James Kotecki (24:06): 

So the company is called Space Perspective. And as we start to wrap up our conversation here, I want to ask something personal of both of you because astronauts talk about this idea of seeing the earth from space as a transformative experience. Jane, you alluded to that earlier in this conversation. The company is called Space Perspective. What are both of you personally expecting or hoping will happen when you have this space going experience for yourselves? And we'll start with you, Jane. 

Jane Poynter (24:40): 

So I have been talking to astronauts my entire adult life about their experiences of going to space and of seeing our incredible planet from that vantage point. Some people call it the overview effect. We have coined the Space Perspective, which really does give people this incredible visceral experience of realizing that we are a single human family that inhabits a spaceship that we call planet Earth and we're hurtling through space together and this is all we have. This is our home. This is where all history happened. 


So it actually changes astronauts. They tend to get more involved in solving our planetary issues, our problems, environmental, social challenges when they return from space compared to before they left for space. So it actually changes behavior. So when I go, I've been looking at these pictures all my life and I'm inspired by pictures of seeing Earth in space, but I know from experience, from being in the biosphere, from being out at sea that there is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes and experiencing it yourself to completely blow your mind in a way probably you never even imagined. And what that will do for me and my behavior, I guess we'll have to see, stay tuned for that also, but I'm expecting it to be a really incredible transformational experience. 

James Kotecki (26:33): 

Absolutely. I'm getting emotional just thinking about it myself from that description. And you Kirby, what's your perspective on the Space Perspective? 

Kirby Harris (26:42): 

Yeah, I don't know if I can add much more to what Jane said. I expect a similar sensation. I remember going to see the Grand Canyon for the first time and how moving that was and large and how vast it seemed and all the different aspects that you drive from one point to the next point. And you see all these incredible vistas, and they're all brand new and I imagine it'll be similar, but on a grander scale, sitting basically at the top of the earth and looking down, like you said, I get chills just thinking about it and talking about it. 


And it is incredibly fulfilling and I'm really honored to be a part of the journey for people to be able to make this journey at scale. And I think what I'm going to get even more than my own experience is, like I said, the experience of the greater community being able to have this experience. We already sold 1600 tickets and there's probably less than two dozen people that have ever had this experience before. And we're taking that a few dozen to thousands and hopefully it'll be tens of thousands so we can really have a huge impact on the way humanity behaves. 

James Kotecki (28:08): 

Well, I am super excited to see how this unfolds. I have told people about this concept because I was preparing for this interview, and I think this is such an exciting thing that once people see other people are actually doing this, the popularity is going to be enormous. So I'm just going to say now, if you ever need someone to do a test flight, if you're ever doing a media preview day or anything like that, then let me know. Maybe we'll do another episode of this show from space and I'd be super excited to do that. Jane and Kirby, thank you so much for joining us today and bringing the Space Perspective perspective and the base ventures perspective to CES Tech talk. 

Jane Poynter (28:48): 

Thank you. 

Kirby Harris (28:49): 

All right, thank you, James. It's been a pleasure. 

James Kotecki (28:51): 

Well, that's our show for now. Until next time or until I get to go to space, but there's always more tech to talk about, so please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss a moment. You can get even more CES and prepare for Vegas at ces.tech. That's ces.T-E-C-H. Our show is produced by Nicole Vidovich and Mason Manuel. Recorded by Miles Claiborne and edited by Third Spoon. I'm James Kotecki, talking tech on CES Tech Talk.