🚀 Virgin Galactic's space travel agency

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

When the "space tourists" arrive wearing sun hats

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Hey Snackers,

Important Akoin update: the cryptocurrency, which is the brainchild of singer Akon, could be launched as soon as July. Akoin is the future currency of Akon's "Akon City" in Senegal. If it's as catchy as 2006 hit classic "Smack That," it could spread far beyond.

Stocks inched up to start the week — Oil jumped on supply cuts and economic reopening, settling above $40 per barrel for the first time since March.

1. Virgin Galactic stock soars because it wants to vacation-ify space travel

When the re-scheduled cruise gets canceled again... Better luck just leaving earth. Virgin Galactic stock popped 16% on a fun headline: the Richard Branson-owned space tourism startup wants to hotel-ify the International Space Station (in partnership with NASA, of course).

  • The Mission: NASA wants Virgin to coordinate private trips to the ISS. That includes building out an "orbital astronaut readiness program” for companies/orgs that want to send their people to space (for whatever reason).
  • The Logistics: Virgin would basically act as a space travel agency, coordinating resources, logistics, and travel plans for customers.
  • The Hospitality: Virgin wants to offer "a variety of personalized space experiences" for its clientele. Think: ISS restaurant bookings and day excursions like star-skiing (kidding, but almost).

Expanding the galactic biz model... Virgin has historically been focused on suborbital spaceflight. It sells $250K tickets to send people to the edge of space (and back) on its spaceplane — but even that hasn't taken off commercially yet (only 5 people have gone for test flights). NASA will review the plan Virgin puts together to see if it's solid, before going ahead with this new venture.


NASA wants to commercialize space... and it needs private sector companies to do it. NASA's on a private hot streak: it recently completed a big launch with SpaceX, successfully sending astronauts into orbit with a private spacecraft for the first time ever. Now it wants Virgin's help getting tourists to the ISS.

  • NASA's Goal: "Facilitate the commercialization of low-Earth orbit by US entities.” With NASA's support, companies like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and even Boeing can get a slice of the commercial space pie.
  • One day, space tourism could be a major market — and a major money maker for the companies that pioneered it.

Channeling Bob Ross vibes... Start with a blank Canva for your DIY masterpiece. The Sydney-based startup wants to make graphic design accessible to all. Think: aesthetically pleasing flyers and social posts for non-design pros. That drag-and-drop attitude just helped Canva nearly double its valuation (it's still private, so we're SUMO'ing):

  • $6B: Canva's value after a $60M fundraise, up from $3.2B just nine months ago. Canva can now update its LinkedIn headline to: Most valuable private tech company in Australia. And it's profitable.
  • 30M: Canva's monthly users. Instead of paying for pricey Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions or trying to make a Word Doc look like a poster, millions turn to Canva's free templates. But it's not just college kids making flyers for random student org events...
  • 1.5M: Paid users on Canva Pro. Canva also has paying enterprise customers like Warner Music and American Airlines, and around 500K smaller orgs/businesses. That's the premium side of Canva's "freemium" biz model. Lure them with the "free," monetize them with the "mium."
  • BTW: Professionals-geared Adobe just released a free photo editing app to attract the Instagram generation ("Reverse Freemium" move).

Collaboration is (extra) key... in the corona-conomy. In addition to doubling its monthly user base, Canva saw a 50% jump in shared designs over the year. The WFH life increased our reliance on real-time collaboration tools. Canva is planning on using its fresh $$$ to expand its design collab features (and lure in more money-making business accounts).


Presentation is everything in the era of "tap-onomics"... We've gone from shopping in-store, to shopping on desktops, to shopping on Instagram. The number of "taps" your product/company gets is closely related to how nice a post looks. During the pandemic, small businesses have turned to social media to reach customers. Canva's promise to make professional-looking posts cheap and easy helped it notch its latest valuation.

What else we’re Snackin’
  • Vengeful: TJ Maxx thrives without ecommerce — sales are higher than a year ago as shoppers flock to reopened stores for "revenge spending."
  • Pod: Spotify tests clickable podcast ads so that you won't have to remember promo codes, beating Apple to the long overdue feature.
  • Tappy: Visa will send "street teams" to help small businesses across the US reopen shop and set up "tap-to-pay" card transactions.
  • Unsearch: Google's US ad revenue will drop for the first time since 2008, according to an eMarketer forecast (#adpocalypse2020).
  • Blocked: Patagonia joins others in boycotting Facebook/Insta ad spending for July — the groups want stricter censorship of "hateful lies."
  • Chipper: Apple ditches Intel chips in Macs, saying it'll offer the first Mac with its own Apple-made chips this year (delicious).

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Snacks Daily Podcast

Hey is trying to fix the endless inbox problem. The $99/year subscription app turns your fun-reads into a Feed and has a tab for "Reply Later" (we just mark those Unread).

Just a week after launching, Hey is in the limelight for refusing to give Apple a 30% cut of its subscription bucks (aka the "Apple Tax").

Tune into our extra digestible pod to hear more about this tale of two internets.

  • New home sales for May
  • Earnings expected from La-Z-Boy

Disclosure: Authors of this Snacks own shares of Alphabet, Spotify, and Apple

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