It was a scene straight from a science fiction movie. A white, pencil-shaped rocket angling down through a hazy-blue sky, then gracefully touching down, amid billowing smoke. All on an automated drone-ship in choppy Atlantic seas. In that moment, Elon Musk reached a new milestone in his bid to dominate commercial space and, one day, send humans to Mars.
What a week for Musk. Days after the triumphant unveiling of Tesla’s latest electric car, SpaceX won over the Internet as countless thousands tuned in to watch the Falcon 9 rocket launch and, roughly eight minutes later, its spectacular first-ever landing at sea. At the company’s mission control center in Hawthorne, California, a throng of employees exploded in cheers. President Barack Obama and Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the Moon nearly half-a-century ago, were among the first to send shout-outs from around the world.
With his characteristic bravado, Musk soon chimed in: “Tickets to orbital hotels, the moon and Mars will be a lot less than people think,” he wrote on Twitter.
“This is the dramatic visual of the new space age,” said Marco Caceres, senior analyst at consultant Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia. “NASA has been trying to recreate the excitement of the Apollo era. Elon Musk just did it.”
Long considered a brash upstart nipping at the heels of staid aerospace giants, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is coming of age 14 years after it was founded by Musk with the lofty– and many have said unrealistic– goal of revolutionizing spacecraft and colonizing Mars. Trips to the Red Planet aside, SpaceX is now within striking distance of becoming dominant in the payload business. It’s planning to fly 18 missions this year, triple the number in 2015.
That’s a highly ambitious goal in an industry known for delays and mishaps. And Friday’s launch– a supply run to the International Space Station — was only the third so far this year. Yet if SpaceX hits its target, it will fling more rockets into space than any of its competitors from the U.S., France, Russia and China and achieve a launch cadence not seen since the end of the Cold War.
The rocket booster that landed on the drone ship Friday will be brought to port and tested on land; if everything checks out, it could fly again as early as June. By the second half of this year, Musk expects SpaceX to launch–and recover–rockets every two to three weeks.
“We’ll be successful, ironically, when it becomes boring,” said Musk at a news conference with NASA Friday. “When it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, another landing, OK, no news there.”’
That will be a bad day for competitors like Europe’s Arianespace, which flies the Ariane 5, and United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. They are scrambling to match SpaceX’s lower costs and fast-paced Silicon Valley vibe. Reusable rockets, once scoffed at by the established players as a pipe-dream, are now on the top of everyone’s agenda.
The cost of a Falcon 9 launch is $61.2 million, according to the company’s website. Established launch companies won’t be able to match SpaceX’s launch costs for years. The price tag for launching a ULA Atlas V rocket, which is not reusable, was $184 million two years ago. ULA has succeeded in getting that price down so far by a third, but it won’t fall below $100 million until 2019 at the earliest.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which ended its 30-year space shuttle program in 2011, now partners with private industry to fly both cargo and crew. SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, loaded with 7,000 pounds of cargo, supplies and an inflatable extension module, reached the space station orbiting over Algeria on Sunday morning, New York time. Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean May 11.
Government agencies like NASA are just one of three markets for launch providers like SpaceX. Satellite companies depend on rockets to get their communications equipment into orbit. And the $70 billion national defense market, which includes highly sensitive missions for the military, is another. SpaceX has bid on a contract to launch GPS satellites for the U.S. Air Force.
SpaceX also has an advantage by playing outside the old aerospace procurement system which relies on multiple contractors and subcontractors. Legacy aerospace companies have long supply chains with embedded testing, documentation and procurement procedures that inflate costs. SpaceX builds not only the Falcon 9 rocket but the rocket’s Merlin engines in-house. The tight loop between design, manufacturing, and prototype testing is a Silicon Valley approach, said consulting firm Alix Partners in a recent report.
“The fact that SpaceX makes its engines itself is a really big deal,” said David Wireman, an aerospace analyst with Alix Partners. “The engines are a big chunk of the cost of any rocket. SpaceX has broken the supply chain.”
At industry conferences largely populated by middle-aged men in gray suits, you can spot the SpaceX employees, in part, by the logos on their jackets and by their youthful look. SpaceX has roughly 5,000 employees; their average engineer is 32.
SES of Luxembourg first flew with SpaceX in 2013 and has contracted for another four launches through 2017. Like other satellite customers, SES was drawn to SpaceX’s vision, lower cost and fast-paced culture.
“The fundamental difference that SpaceX has is that they are on a mission, and the mission is to go to Mars,” said Martin Halliwell, SES’s chief technical officer, in an interview. “That is absolutely unique within the industry. It’s a true passion felt by Elon and every single person in the company.”
Flutterwave, 9PSB Partner to Boost Growth of Inclusive Financial Services in Nigeria
Flutterwave, Africa’s leading payments technology company and Nigeria’s very first payment service bank, 9PSB on Monday entered into a partnership agreement that will help facilitate seamless financial services for Nigerians.
In a joint statement issued by both companies, the partnership seeks to create a seamless payment ecosystem by aggregating and simplifying transactions for banking agents, merchants, and consumers.
The partnership will also support the drive for economic growth through empowerment of the SME sector, entrepreneurs in FinTech and other industries, as well as contribute to the transformation of the informal sector to formal.
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, held at the 9PSB head office in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, 9PSB, Branka Mracajac remarked that the collaboration between 9PSB and Flutterwave represents an important milestone in making banking services accessible to all.
According to her, the partnership supports both companies’ commitment to expand accessibility and serve as last-mile delivery of solutions to the unbanked, under-banked and underserved. She said, “9PSB, being focused on the presence in unserved, rural, and remote areas, has a unique business model that provides Agent Banking as a Service to our partners to drive financial inclusion. Expanding on our promise to deliver relevant products, with this partnership, our existing agents, partners, and customers will have a single point of entry to enjoy various products and services provided by Flutterwave.”
With this partnership, Flutterwave and 9PSB are jointly launching a suite of products to enable other corporate entities, FinTech, technology and other industries to take advantage of the robust end-to-end system available for payments, collections, and transactions for both the banked and financially excluded Nigerians.
Commenting on the choice of 9PSB as its settlement bank, Founder and CEO, Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola noted that both companies share the same vision and are committed to one goal of powering seamless financial services. “At Flutterwave, we believe in an ecosystem of shared value that transforms and impacts society. We are showcasing the power of strategic partnership and cross-sectoral collaboration in advancing Nigeria’s financial ecosystem,” he said.
A paper published by the CBN—Financial Inclusion in Nigeria; Issues and Challenges, admits that there is global consensus on the importance of financial inclusion due to its key role in bringing integrity and stability into an economy’s financial system as well as its role in fighting poverty in a sustainable manner. The partnership between 9PSB and Flutterwave keys into various calls for interconnectivity and interoperability amongst stakeholders in the financial sector in accelerating the country’s financial inclusion drive to create prosperity and grow the economy.
HealthPlus Launches Digital ePharmacy and Access To Doctors
HealthPlus Limited, the largest and fastest-growing pharmacy chain across West Africa is set to revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry with the launch of Nigeria’s first ever e-Pharmacy. Nigerians can also now access a doctor or pharmacist instantly at a click.
Through the digitization of the Pharmacy and retail services, HealthPlus will now be transformed into a fully automated one-stop shop for Pharmacy Services Telemedicine Services Laboratory Services and, Beauty Consultation Services.
From the fully automated and interactive website, Nigerians can now access all the pharmacy services and consult a doctor right from the comfort of their homes or a click from their mobile phones.
According to Chidi Okoro, Chief Transformation Officer of HealthPlus Nigeria Limited, “we noticed a significant surge in online Pharmacy orders, and many customers organically resort to purchasing medicines online and getting them delivered at home. It is now considered not just the more convenient option, but the safer option as well.”
HealthPlus’ first-ever ePharmacy is in response to this shift and give Nigerians quicker access to the country’s best pharmaceutical care,
HealthPlus’ ePharmacy aims to deliver a user-friendly, all-inclusive online experience, that provides access to professional health care services using any device. HealthPlus ePharmacy is truly a ‘one-stop shop’ experience for health care services including telemedicine and laboratory services in partnership with healthcare providers such as MeCure.
In explaining the specialist nature of the ePharmacy platform, Chief Transformation Officer, Chidi Okoro also remarked that “our intention is to become the leading point of care for medicine use review, prescriptions management and pharmacist consultation services, by providing seamless end to end user experience. We will also be constantly updating our content with helpful information, articles, blogs, newsletters and company announcements.”
Amongst the new features, such as the “Speak To A Pharmacist” chat button on the site, the ePharmacy platform is interactive and gives better access to foster improved communication with our patients and customers. ‘
Afsane Jetha, CEO of Alta Semper Capital LLP, HealthPlus’s private equity investment partner, believes that this is another great stride in improving healthcare delivery in Nigeria by providing access to high-quality yet affordable medical and beauty supplies through a new and innovative platform. “We remain strongly committed to supporting the company strategically and financially in the years to come,” he assured.
YouTube To Generate Over $280 Million From US Premium Subscribers In 2021
YouTube Premium is starting to generate sustainable revenues from its paid ad-free subscription services. It took more than six years since relaunch to see significant growth.
A recent report projects that with an estimated 23.6 million unique users by the end of 2021, revenues are expected to climb to $282.96 million in the US alone, representing an impressive +18% Year-Over-Year (YoY) growth.
Premium subscriptions are projected to top 25 million unique users by the end of next year, exceeding $300 million in revenues. By the end of 2024, totalling $334.52 million with nearly 28 million sign-ups. The projected revenues are expected to keep a steady growth after 2023.
Video streaming services are gaining popularity, growth accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic
In addition to promising growth in the US, YouTube Premium services reached 50 million subscribers globally since September, beating an important milestone. YouTube Premium’s recent success can be attributed to both Covid-related, as well as non-Covid-related factors.
The global video streaming market is expected to expand at a 21% growth rate between 2021 and 2028 – highly driven by the increase in smartphone and internet usage. Live-streaming, music streaming, the adoption of cloud-based solutions could all be contributing factors.
The HelpCenter app’s co-founder Ernestas Petkevicius commented on the continuous growth of YouTube Premium:
“YouTube is playing in its own category. I do not see any competition for user-generated content which is now the main driver of tutoring, know-how, and news/comments. YouTube has lots of quality content and an army of creators who rely on the platform as their main source of income. Music services and ad-free mode are only an extra catalyst for revenue growth. YouTube has no competitors when it comes to these services, therefore, the revenue numbers potentially could be much bigger.”
In terms of market shares, 39% of the video streaming market is found to be driven by the US and Canada, which would explain the US-driven revenue growth of 18% Year-over-Year (YoY). What is more, subscription-model accounted for 43% revenue share of the total video streaming services in 2020.
Music streaming is another possible factor for revenue growth from premium sign-ups. Music streaming market in isolation is expected to reach a good 9.8% growth between 2021 and 2027.
And even though video streaming was popular prior to the pandemic, the extreme acceleration in growth has been due to the COVID-19 crisis. As many countries declared nationwide lockdowns, people stayed home more, thus increasing the use of digital services like social media, as well as online video streaming. Consumer engagement on social media video sharing platforms like YouTube grew significantly.
Whether this growth is driven by the all-encompassing features (ad-free videos, YouTube TV, music streaming for $11.99), changes in the consumer behavior, or technological advancements, revenues from YouTube Premium subscriptions in the US are expected to keep growing at a steady rate.
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