SpaceX’s Starlink made $1.4 billion last year

Photo by Nilay Patel / The Verge

Starlink, the SpaceX satellite internet service, generated $1.4 billion in revenue last year, documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal reveal. That’s up from $222 million in 2021 but $11 billion short of its original projections, according to the Journal.

Interestingly, The Wall Street Journal’s report comes the same day SpaceX exec Jonathan Hofeller said at a conference that it’s no longer incurring losses for producing Starlink’s satellite antennas, reports CNBC. According to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal, profitability took a hit in 2022, but a report by the outlet last month said SpaceX did manage to turn a profit in the first quarter of 2023.

In a 2015 presentation to investors, the Elon Musk-founded company initially predicted that Starlink would make $12 billion and $7 billion in operating profit in 2022. SpaceX also projected the division would have 20 million subscribers by the end of 2022, the presentation reveals. Instead, by the end of last year, Starlink only had over 1 million active subscribers. By May 2023, the company reported it had about 1.5 million users; however, CNBC reports Hofeller stated it’s now “well over” that mark.

In October 2022, Musk tweeted that Starlink was losing about $20 million a month to maintain its services before saying, “Even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”

In an upcoming book by Walter Isaacson, an excerpt for which was published by The Washington Post, Isaacson quotes SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell saying that, before Musk’s reversal, “The Pentagon had a $145 million check ready to hand to me, literally. Then Elon succumbed to the bullshit on Twitter and to the haters at the Pentagon who leaked the story.” However, Isaacson claims government agencies did eventually start paying for increased Starlink service in Ukraine.

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