Satellite Scuffles, Kuiper Kool-Aid & Desktop Metal Militia
Billionaire Boss Fight
It’s that time again, Great Ones!
Today’s the day we stick our grubby little hands into the Great Stuff mailbag and munch on your delicious Reader Feedback.
A sweet little investing question here, some savory market meme-ry over there, and we have ourselves a hot, fresh helping of greatness … or something like that. We’re doing emails today, people.
If you wrote in, thanks! If you didn’t, shame! Let’s try again next week … that’s your cue to send your questions, concerns, comments and routine oddball lunacy over to our inbox: GreatStuffToday@BanyanHill.com.
Alright, now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s get to our featured presentation:
Hiya, Marvin. Thanks for writing in!
By the by, I hope it’s really you writing to us from the void and not one of Elon’s Tesla Bots … I shudder to think what one of those Ultron wannabes would do with Great Stuff’s not-so-secret pearls of wisdom.
Do robots have portfolios? What do robots do in retirement? Sip full-synthetic motor oil and lounge by the pool? Inquiring minds want to know!
Anyway, Marvin, I’ll try to answer your question without going full-on deep-space cowboy. But to do that, we first need to have a little chat about the satellite swashbuckling going on as of late.
If you’re not up to date on Great Stuff — first, what the heck — grab some popcorn and enjoy the ranting ride to space.
Now, those of you in those fancy urban areas of the U.S. might not think twice about your internet speed unless your provider is having a really off day. But everyone else living in the sticks can appreciate the trials and tribulations of a shoddy internet connection.
According to BroadbandNow, over 40 million unlucky people in the U.S. still deal with unreliable internet access. I mean … even more unreliable than all you Great Ones stuck on AT&T or Comcast (I pray for your upload speeds every night, I swear).
The reason? Service providers don’t want to pay exorbitant sums of money on high-speed infrastructure for just a handful of customers. In other words … sorry, Charlie, you really remote people are just not that important to the Big Telecoms. You are to me, though … don’t worry.
Wait! Here come the two richest people in the multiverse to save the day!
Is that … Elon Musk and Jeffrey Bezos?
The very same. As you probably already know, Papa Musk and his merry band of musketeers run an aerospace company called SpaceX.
And one of SpaceX’s big projects — or “initiatives,” if you dig that innovator techspeak — is a satellite internet constellation called Starlink, made up of thousands of low-orbit satellites zooming around the Earth.
These satellites will (eventually) provide high-speed internet access to virtually anyone on the planet … so long as the country you live in is cozied up with SpaceX.
But seeing as Jeffrey Bezos is in a permanent #*@$-measuring contest with Elon, he had to go create his own satellite internet program called Project Kuiper — which Marvin referred to earlier.
So here we go again, with Bezos desperately trying to become Elon Musk. (Oh, I wanna be like you-oooo. I wanna walk like you, talk like you, tooooo!)
Because the Blue Origin rockets, the insistence on beating Musk to space … none of that was enough. Earth became too small for the egos of Elon Musk and even a post-Bezos Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN).
But who will win this billionaire’s brawl, Great Ones? And why is it Elon Musk?
The satellite internet race boils down to two factors, and neither of them is Twitter meme mastery, believe it or not. We need to talk about the availability of connectivity … and then partnerships.
Starlink already has satellites up in the ether. And if you were curious, we’re talking about 200 to 400 miles above us mere Earthly peons below.
Compared to the 22,000-mile distance that older satellite internet providers had to deal with, Starlink’s close range means actual usable high-speed internet is in reach.
Starlink’s services might seem particularly expensive if you’re used to dealing with non-rural internet sources — $499 for the dish, $99 each month. But who’s Starlink’s competition for internet signal when you’re truly remote?
Cell phone internet? Windstream?! Just switch to courier pigeons at that point.
Even if Starlink isn’t able to lower consumer costs, the service’s sheer speed advantage by comparison to legacy providers makes the higher price a moot point.
Now, Kuiper’s satellites operate in a similar range of 200 to 400 miles. Or rather, they would … if the project had any up in the sky yet. The FCC granted Starlink permission to send up 12,000 satellites, while Elon’s own goal is 42,000 … because of course it is.
Amazon’s Kuiper (run by a former Starlink vice president) has a goal of just 3,200 satellites. And unless they’re significantly more powerful than Starlink’s … Amazon will lose out in terms of sheer coverage.
Plus … it helps to have powerful partnerships, if not just for the media optics alone. Starlink already has the U.S. Army and Air Force testing the system for military purposes. Microsoft and Google already partnered with SpaceX “to use the satellites as links for cloud computing.”
Kuiper’s comradery, by contrast, is paper-thin: It looks like Kuiper’s just going to support Amazon Web Services … so Amazon has that going for it, which is nice.
So, Marvin … I haven’t forgotten about you, buddy. When it comes to direct exposure to the Kuiper project, Amazon stock is as close as you can get. It’s not a pure play — you will end up with Amazon’s baggage along with Kuiper.
However, Amazon is using United Launch Alliance (ULA) to get its stuff into orbit — since Blue Origin, surprisingly, isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. ULA is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Boeing (NYSE: BA), which might be alternate investment options for you.
But if AMZN, LMT or BA don’t float your boat — or help you lift off? — there is one, little-known publicly held space company poised to skyrocket as much as 3,900% when this soon-to-be-trillion-dollar industry goes mainstream.
My, my, would you look at the time? I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! Today’s Reader Feedback. And nobody ever misses Reader Feedback … right?
Or it’s off with their heads!
Hold on there. That’d be unthinkable — reprehensible even. So how about you just jot down a few ideas to send our way for next week’s edition?
GreatStuffToday@BanyanHill.com. Sear that address into your brain like your life depended on it. Speaking of, by and large, most of you who wrote in last week had one thing in mind: our untimely destruction at the hands of Tesla’s AI terminators.
Or rather … a better name for Tesla’s totally not nightmarish robots than the yawn-worthy “Tesla Bot.” Thank you for writing in! Y’all had some rather creative answers — so go here and vote for your favorite robot monikers in our Poll of the Week.
And with that … the rest of your emails!
I Think This Matrix Glitched
Hey, Joe! What to call Tesla’s bot? Overlord … too soon? Fine. Robo McBotface!Seriously, I’m with you. With Oregon State’s “robo legs” teaching itself how to run and Boston Dynamics’ robo machines doing parkour — who came up with calling it parkour? It sounds like a card game my grandparents would play in the ‘50s — it is only a matter of time before Skynet comes online.
We’ve come a long way since the Big Track. (Man, I wish I still had mine!) Elon Musk has famously said that AI is our biggest existential threat and predicted machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence by 2025. Perhaps that is why he is so anxious to get to Mars. — Mike B.
Robo McBotface! I love it. Reminds me of Boaty McBoatface.
Thank you for writing in, Mikey B.! I’m glad that someone out there appreciates my paranoid delusions of the future … oh, and the stuff about Tesla too.
Riddle me this, so I can get some sleep tonight (yeah, as if). If an AI is smart enough to take over the world, it’s smart enough to act dumb, right?
Wouldn’t the AI just play along and fail any kind of Turing test you give it to not raise suspicion?
Also, bad news, Mike: I think machine intelligence surpassed us … quite a while back.
Our only means of moving forward and maintaining our humanity is to recognize our emotional breadth … the only thing the machines cannot adapt.
Well, that and meme-making. Show me a Tesla Bot that can make memes, and I’ll show you — hang on, let’s not give Musk any ideas.
Passin’ All Y’all Peasants
Joseph, I immediately chortled at the picture and caption of the Target customers blowing by Walmart.My wife drives 20 miles to a Target to buy the exact same staples she can buy only two miles from our house at Walmart — and believe me, no one on the face of this earth is going to alter that pattern… — KB
Thank you, KB! I believe Walmart and Target were made to bounce off each other … like Pepsi and Coke … a retail yin and yang. Something about the illusion of choice…
Anyway, retailers live and die by butting their heads against human habit. It’s not so mysterious at this point. The Target tax to drive past a Walmart in sheer middle-class delight is Target’s entire business model. Then you have the Fresh Markets and Whole Foods of the world another rung higher, looking down at Target shoppers.
While we’re comparing anecdotal evidence, it turns out that the Great Stuff team is quite fond of Warby Parker — as an eyewear e-tailer, not a potential investment. And Warby Parker, it was pointed out to me, is going through a strange period of identity-questioning that is absolutely killing its profitability.
The company innovated by letting customers shop for stylish glasses online and try on up to five frames at home. All was well. Then, Warby got all uppity and decided it needed a retail presence … which comes with its own ball and chain of overhead costs. That’s just grand.
Now, Warby’s whining about costs and profitability as it tries to list its stock. Just stick to online shopping — that was your unique selling point! C’mon now…
If the pandemic hadn’t put Warby Parker’s retail dreams in their rightful place, time and human habits would.
The Metal Militia … Of Printers!
For such a short email, you’ve got a long rant incoming. You’ve been warned, CTM! (And thanks for writing in, buddy.)
For 3D printing bulls, it’s always about the next stage of production. First, 3D printers were mainly used to show off prototypes and create hands-on models at cheaper costs. But next comes full-on mass production via 3D printing, where the goal is to replace some machining or casting processes with faster, more-customizable additive manufacturing.
Huh … neat. I know some of those words.
Basically, instead of whittling away processing sheets of metal … get one of Desktop Metal’s printers to do it faster and more precisely. I know, we were just worried about the robots taking our lives — er, jobs, and now we’ve gotta worry about the printers too. And engineers … y’all shop people know what I’m talking about.
Those blueprints that are physically impossible for the machine shop to make? Will metal printers even balk at those? Fun times…
Anywho, extra manufacturing bandwidth is exactly what the pandemic’s jumbled-up supply chains need.
When it comes to this kind of mass manufacturing, processing speed is most crucial for a company’s output. You want to build systems that a company can use to revolutionize their shop floor’s production. You won’t sell slow systems once faster-producing competition enters the picture … like Desktop Metal.
While Desktop Metal’s “Single-Pass Jetting” technique seems leagues faster than legacy “Binder Jetting” techniques — under three seconds per layer of material compared to over 20 seconds with other tech — let’s talk about the stock.
I figure that, while doing your own independent due diligence (wink wink), you would know that much of Desktop Metal’s SPAC merger hype has been piledriven out of the stock by now.
Revenue is taking off like a shot — last quarter’s rev was up an insane 767% year over year, and the company’s sitting on a healthy, growing cash balance with little to no long-term debt. Now that’s all great… But earnings? Not so much.
Losses per share for new-ish but growing tech companies is understandable. Not investing in DM because those losses don’t sit well with you … is also understandable. Getting into Desktop Metal’s manufacturing growth story now is up to your risk tolerance as the company tries to become profitable.
Now, if you’re anything like other 3D printing enthusiasts and investors, you’re already looking at the “weird science” side of the sector — bioprinting. As in … literally printing human tissue. Organovo (Nasdaq: ONVO) pioneered this tech, but it, too, has been a victim of 3D printing’s past uber-hype.
That’s why if you’re looking to jump into the red-hot 3D printing market for the first time, you don’t want to do so blindly … take it from someone who’s both worked in the sector and invested in the 3D printing market before: You will get burned without solid research.
Speaking of which, Paul Mampilly believes one North Carolina stock is already No. 1 in the race! It’s cracked the code to this technology, which is turning a billion-dollar niche industry into a $100 trillion global manufacturing power, according to the World Economic Forum.
And with that, I turn the ranting over to you. How do you feel about the billionaire battle for satellite internet? Do you get down with satellite internet? How about 3D printing (human tissue not required)?
Let’s talk about it: GreatStuffToday@BanyanHill.com. In the meantime, here’s where you can find our other junk — erm, I mean where you can check out some more Greatness:
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Until next time, stay Great!
Editor, Great Stuff