edmond Yeah, I think it’s a great case study for all the space founders at the moment. You have two companies on two very different fundraising and business growth paths, around similar technologies/value propositions.
I don’t think that RocketLab couldn’t have raised as much as Relativity if they wanted to, they probably didn’t need to. It depends on what the cap tables look like and the fundraising/milestone strategies of each. A key difference is that Relatively are going down a pure VC route - no customers, no revenue, just a big story and flashy tech that really probably won’t matter so much for achieving their actual value proposition for serving customers. Why are their 3D printed rockets really a game changer over other modern vehicles? Recall that most of Rocket Lab’s rockets are also 3D printed, and they have an incredible track record of successful flights. 3D printing has a lot of limitations when it comes to the physical properties of the materials used. Is the convenience of 3D printing the entire vehicle worth avoiding better performing materials and parts?
Rocket Lab is in a different position because they have a lot of recurring revenue. They even have returning customers launching with them on a cadence of several times per year. They’ve also just done a SPAC and will soon have access to much larger public markets, which isn’t necessarily unwise for them since they have great revenue growth and a scaling business that goes well beyond the tech - plus there’s a lot of dumb money in the public markets at the moment.
Relativity wouldn’t be wise to go public (this also applies to Astra, who are listing via a SPAC with no significant track record) because they still haven’t flown an orbital rocket, let alone have been able to serve real customers. Their game is to keep selling a bigger and bigger vision to raise more private capital, and hope that eventually, their focus on tech development will pay off and that when they are ready to get customers that they’ll blow away the competition. I’m not saying it’s a bad strategy, just different - although, there’s a much higher chance at downside than with RocketLab.