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Photo courtesy of Payload

Payload, a new digital media company focused on the business and policy of space, is hoping to bring more professional coverage to an industry that's growing very big, very fast.

Why it matters: For years, space coverage has focused on the consumer-facing spectacle of space travel instead of the business and societal implications of the industry.

  • Payload's coverage aims to go a step deeper, by providing business and policy coverage to space industry professionals. There are an estimated 2.19 million workers in the U.S. aerospace and defense industry.
  • Space is currently a $350 billion a year market and is forecast to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2030.

Details: The new company has raised a $650,000 seed round, mostly from Winklevoss Capital, the venture firm run by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, as well as Andy Weissman and Sam McIngvale.

  • "We're very confident that we've raised the right amount of money to get to profitability in the next 12-18 months," said Mo Islam, co-founder of Payload.
  • Like many new media upstarts, Payload's business model today revolves around a weekly newsletter. Soon, that newsletter, which includes sponsorships, will move to daily.
  • In the future, it plans to build complementary products like events and podcasts, or more newsletters.

Be smart: Payload sees an opportunity in being able to provide marketers with a place to reach high-level space influencers.

  • The market for companies looking to reach space businesses, entrepreneurs and contractors has grown rapidly in the past few years.
  • Nearly 400 new angel-backed and venture-backed space companies have been founded and funded in the period from 2000 to 2020, according to BryceTech, a space technology company.
  • Today, space startups spend up to 40% of all venture capital dollars on Google, Facebook and Amazon, according to one report, even though those environments aren't ideal for reaching space decision-makers.
  • "We started Payload out of a personal frustration I had with the lack of quality space media coverage," said Islam. "I worked in space through my coverage at Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. I had a front row seat to the incredible investment activity and industry momentum, but noticed very little accompanying news and analysis."

The big picture: As technology becomes a bigger part of the world's economy, more media companies are launching around niche business and policy verticals, like cybersecurity, biotechnology and now space.

  • "There is no greater opportunity in media today than vertical media. We believe it's not about the size of your audience, but the quality," said Ari Lewis, co-founder of Payload.
  • "If you write great content for a niche, you'll create a loyal audience. That's attractive to advertisers, who will pay a premium CPM (rate). We want to pioneer the vertical model for space media."

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Aug 31, 2021 - Science

A mission to space like no other

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The launch next month of the first all-civilian mission to orbit is an ambitious test for a burgeoning space industry's futuristic dream of sending many more ordinary people to space in the next few years.

Why it matters: Companies and nations envision millions of people living and working in space without having to become professional, government-backed astronauts. Those hopes are riding on SpaceX's next crewed mission, called Inspiration4.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 14, 2021 - Science

Inspiration4 launch: What the crew will do in space

Clockwise from left: Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski. Photo: Inspiration4/John Kraus

When the Inspiration4 crew lives in space for three days, they'll do more than just sightseeing. The crew members also hope to perform experiments and fly a variety of sentimental items with them in space.

The big picture: This mission is like none that have flown before, but the crew is still planning to draw on the experiences of previous professional crews to help advance space science and attract the public to their cause.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
18 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 launches on 3-day mission in orbit

A screenshot of the rocket launching. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's all-civilian Inspiration4 mission made history Wednesday night when it launched into orbit.

Why it matters: It's the first time a crew of amateurs has launched to orbit without a professional astronaut onboard. The mission also signals the start of a new era in space — one defined by an industry pushing to launch many more private people to orbit in the coming years.

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