Founders Fund Partner Luke Nosek dreamed of building rockets, but he chased other scientific pursuits, such as computers, which led him to become a co-founder and vice president of PayPal.
After PayPal was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, Nosek escaped Silicon Valley and traveled the world, but when he would stop into an Internet cafe, then he would check on the progress that fellow PayPal co-founder Elon Musk was making on his new startup Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX.
Then in 2008, Luke Nosek got the chance to lead a $20 million investment in SpaceX from Founders Fund, then a young venture outfit he began in 2005 with PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and other Internet luminaries.
That bet appears to be brilliant today, a month later SpaceX succeeded in launching its first commercial geostationary satellite, opening up a market potentially worth several billions of dollars.
Founders Fund, which has invested in dozens of high-tech technology companies, such as Facebook, Palantir Technologies and Airbnb, is now reportedly raising a $750 million fifth fund.
For Nosek, however, the SpaceX investment, which came before Musk’s company had yet found a rocket into orbit, still illustrates a boldness and commitment to transformational technologies to that Founders Fund aspires.
Nosek speaks with regard about Musk’s accomplishments with SpaceX, where Musk spent $100 million of his own money, even as he co-founded Tesla, the Palo Alto-based electric vehicle maker. “He would have given everything. He’s asking his friends for his nanny’s salary,” said Nosek.
However, Nosek takes pride in the fact that Founders Fund’s participation was needed when the economy crashed in late 2008.
“When we invested, they did not need that money. After we invested, they really did need that money,” Nosek said. “Who knows what the world will be like now? Perhaps SpaceX wouldn’t exist.”
As to Musk’s stated goal of colonizing other lands in the galaxy, Nosek says he’s inspired.