Category: Entreprise


How to Make a Neighborhood Farm for an Entire Metropolis


ATLANTA — Joe Reynolds and Judith Winfrey, the married couple who started Love Is Love Farm 13 years ago not far from downtown Atlanta, are part of a generation of landless America farmers who grow food in rented fields.

They have no family farm to inherit. They work about two acres, growing enough food to sell to a handful of restaurants and about 200 customers who pay for seasonal produce subscriptions. It’s not a business model that kicks out enough income to buy their own farm.

The Working Farms Fund aims to change that. The couple are the first beneficiaries of an ambitious new program that buys large tracts of farmland in danger of being developed and leases it to farmers, helping them save enough to buy it — with a guarantee that local institutions like universities and hospitals will purchase as much food as the farmers want to sell them.

The program is part of a new, national agricultural push by the Conservation Fund, a nonprofit organization that balances environmental preservation and economic development. Since it started in 1985, the fund has protected more than eight million acres.

The new program aims to bridge the gap between small, urban farms and large, highly industrialized ones — with what is often referred to as agriculture of the middle, the midsize regional farms that once fed most of the country but started to decline in the 1950s and ’60s.

In their wake, urban farms began popping up in nearly every part of the country, and a wider appreciation arose for food grown locally and organically.

“What we haven’t figured out is how to scale up that model now that we realize we need a robust, strong food system around urban centers,” said Mindy Goldstein, who directs the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University, which provides the legal infrastructure for the project. “Instead of a couple-acre farm that feeds the neighborhood, we need to think about how can these farms feed cities like Atlanta or Chicago.”

In its debut effort, the Working Farms Fund is buying 20- to 500-acre plots within a 100-mile radius of metropolitan Atlanta and restricting it to agricultural use through a conservation easement. It will lease the land to farmers who have been working with the fund to develop business plans that include saving money to buy their farm outright within 10 years.

An agricultural easement comes with some unique advantages for the farmers. Because the value of property can drop by as much as 60 percent when it is taken out of the commercial market and becomes agricultural land, it becomes the more affordable.

The goal is to buy at least 12,000 acres of farmland near Atlanta, help start 150 farm businesses and support four or five strong rural farms in the next 20 years, said Stacy Funderburke, a regional counsel for the Conservation Fund who has been developing the program for a decade.

Agricultural trusts that help young farmers buy land aren’t a new concept, but the Working Farms Fund has taken the idea even further. Farmers become part of a network intended to help them create a financially healthy working farm, which includes contracts with institutional customers.

In Atlanta, Emory University and its hospital system have agreed to sign food-purchasing agreements with farmers, who can then use those contracts to secure loans to improve the farm. In return, the farms help Emory move closer to its goal of using locally and sustainably grown food in 75 percent of its meals at the university and 25 percent in its hospital system.

“Whatever they grow, we will buy,” said Dave Furhman, a senior director of campus life at Emory, which serves more than 6,000 meals a day.

The Working Farms Fund uses grants from foundations and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and money from the Conservation Fund, which has set aside $2 million for the project. The money from the rent and eventual sale of a farm will be put back into the program for the purchase of more land.

Recruiting minority and first-generation farmers who historically have not been able to own land is a priority. Global Growers, an Atlanta refugee and immigrant farmer collective, is the second group to lease a farm under the program, and the Georgia Korean American Farmers Association is right behind.

The cattle ranchers Will and Charlsy Godowns are in line to acquire 300 acres. Another farm, Pride Road, is run by the Muhaimin family that moved to Atlanta after losing their farm to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They are looking at a 25-acre site to grow hibiscus for teas, sodas and jams.

“This only works for farmers and farm groups who want to own their own land,” Mr. Funderburke said. “It’s not designed to set up farmers with a cushy lease for a long time.”

The fund’s next target is Chicago, which has a high concentration of young and minority farmers in Illinois and millions of acres of farmable land within 100 miles. A lot of that land has either been used for chemical-intensive farming of commodity crops like corn, or lacks the kind of infrastructure needed to grow and process fruits and vegetables.

“All the ingredients here are so ripe for this type of vehicle,” said Emy Brawley, the Great Lakes regional director for the Conservation Fund. “We have a ton of farmers and a ton of land, but it needs to be retrofitted back into land that can support food production.”

The owners of Love Is Love Farm will continue to work part of the four acres they rent in Atlanta until later this year, but are turning their attention to their new land. They are leasing, about 70 acres in the tiny town of Mansfield, about 50 miles from the city.

A packing shed and the season-stretching polyethylene structures called high tunnels need to be built, and the farmers only recently finished digging a well in the center of one field. They planted their first crop last month — sweet potatoes that will end up in Emory’s kitchens come fall.

Their new land has opened the door to other opportunities, too. Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Reynolds, who are both in their 40s, have joined with three other, younger farmers to turn Love Is Love into a worker-owned cooperative. The idea is to create something that can be passed on.

“Joe and I are the elders here,” Ms. Winfrey said. “Because we’ve got land that’s under conservation forever and we’ve got a technical structure that can go on forever, we can get out when we are ready and know someone new can come in and keep this going.”


Even Your Allergist Is Now Investing in Start-Ups


In London, Ivy Mukherjee, 28, a product designer, and Shashwat Shukla, 30, a private equity investor, also started putting money into start-ups together this year to learn new skills and network with others in the industry. They said they were proceeding cautiously, with checks of $2,000 to $5,000, knowing they could lose it all.

“If we happen to make our money back, that’s good enough for us,” Mr. Shukla said.

The new angels have the potential to transform a venture capital industry that has been stubbornly clubby. They could also put pressure on bad actors in the industry who get away with things ranging from rudeness to sexual harassment, said Elizabeth Yin, a general partner at Hustle Fund, a venture capital firm. The firm also created Angel Squad and shares deals with its members.

“More competition brings about better behavior,” Ms. Yin said. (In addition to investing in start-ups, Hustle Fund sells mugs that say “Be Nice, Make Billions.”)

The angel boom has, in turn, created a miniboom of companies that aim to streamline the investing process. Allocations, the start-up run by Mr. Advani, offers group deal making. Assure, another start-up, helps with the administrative work. Others, including Party Round and Sign and Wire, help angels with money transfers or work with start-ups to raise money from large groups of investors.

AngelList, which has enabled such deals for over a decade, has steadily expanded its menu of options, including rolling funds (for people to subscribe to an angel investor’s deals) and roll-up vehicles (for start-ups to consolidate lots of small checks). Mr. Kohli said his company runs a “fund factory” that compresses a month of legal paperwork and wire transfers into the push of a button.

Still, getting access to the next hot tech start-up as a total outsider takes time.

Ashley Flucas, 35, a real estate lawyer in Palm Beach County, Fla., began investing in start-ups three years ago. She said it was a chance to create generational wealth, something underrepresented people did not typically get access to.

“It’s the same people doing deals with each other and sharing in the wealth, and I’m thinking, how do I break into that?” said Ms. Flucas, who is Black.


A Summer of Normalcy? It’s a Tall Order as New York City Restaurants Struggle.


There are ample signs that a resurgence has begun. Tables are packed at restaurants and bars across the city. Many places have expanded their capacity with new outdoor seating, thanks to the city’s Open Streets and Open Restaurant programs.

“It feels like every day is a weekend,” said Simone Tong, the chef of Silver Apricot, in the West Village. “The energy is back.”

With commercial retail rents in New York City at record lows, some restaurants are signing new leases. There have been 1,713 new restaurant permit applications from Jan. 1 through July 2, according to figures from the city health department (which also include renewals for existing restaurants).

Still, in 2019, the number of applications for roughly that same period was 2,388, and many owners say they’re a long way from the old normal.

“People think that because restaurants are allowed to be at 100 percent, and when they go into the restaurants, they’re full, that everything is fine,” said Jeffrey Bank, the chief executive of Alicart Restaurant Group, which owns Carmine’s and Virgil’s Real Barbecue. “And clearly it is not.”

The damage the pandemic has already done is coming into focus. Just before the state shut down indoor dining in March 2020, New York had more than 27,000 restaurants, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The department doesn’t yet have current figures, but Yelp, which tracks restaurant openings, shows there are now about 2,000 fewer. The city had 173,500 restaurant employees in June, a 38 percent drop from the 280,000 who were working in December 2019, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

2021-08-07 09:00:19


Strategy Hiring a Marketing Manager on Your Business

Strategy Hiring a Marketing Manager on Your Business

Hire a marketing manager. Some marketing managers work as freelancer editors and writers. In the event you really don’t possess a particular demand for a marketing manager, look at hiring a freelance writer and editor. A quality freelance writing and editing service permits you to readily hire skilled freelance writers to successfully handle most your marketing stuff. A quality service is going to be affordable, too, this means that it will be easy for the company to obtain usage of the appropriate authors without having to spend a good deal of capital on different projects.
Incorporating your firm into the area. The marketing department will work closely together with customer service agents, financial institutions, along with other companies to publicize your new across your entire world. You certainly can accomplish it by creating and keeping a website, making interpersonal networking reports, and engaging conversations on message boards, podcasts, and also on other websites. By engaging from the neighborhood community, your business will likely be observable to a lot far more folks than ever before.
Employ an outside pro. A marketing manager may be able to help your enterprise focus on a specific aspect of the organization. Marketing pros can provide suggestions and assistance in several characteristics of the industry. By working with an outdoor skilled, you can benefit from their knowledge and experience.

The advertising division in most organization is accountable for the growth of a corporation’s new image. Based on Your Organization, the responsibilities of the section could require at Least One of these:
Use the press. While traditional press marketing strategies are great, they hardly ever receive the outcome which you’re searching for. In the event you would like to publicize your small business enterprise and earn attention from the wide assortment of likely future customers , turn into social networking. Contact local papers and tv channels to release news reports or community-sponsored events. Public relations specialists will be able to allow you to establish a positive image, enhance market recognition, and build community trust.

Tracking tendencies. Monitoring the developments that your organization is influenced by is an essential portion to be effective. Advertisers examine customer feedback, competition analysis, along with also the most recent developments and adjustments for your own industry to be sure your advertising campaigns are concentrating on these potential clients who are likely to obtain your goods or services. Digital-marketing managers track the trends which are shaping your company.
Utilize PR professionals. General public relations experts can aid your organization get an immense amount of vulnerability. These advertisements managers can provide marketing plans, promotional campaigns, and also other plans that can greatly improve your overall image. As a portion of your advertising strategies, they can perhaps work to construct relationships with important associates of their websites and the overall people. They can also function as advocates for your business, assisting to create positive news stories.
Assessing and tracking your brand. Digital marketing supervisors to produce and manage each of the weather related to digital marketing. This includes defining that you are, why you exist, exactly what you do, how you operate and also what your company represents. Digital marketing supervisors will arrange and incorporate advertising campaigns, promotional material strategies, and social media in your general strategy to promote your firm.
Endorsing your fresh through digital channels. In the event you’ve developed a strong on-line presence, promotion trends experts advise integrating those stations to your social media strategies. Many digital advertising and marketing and advertising managers work with company blog posts, social networking webpages, and press releases. Digital marketing trends specialists additionally work with content writers to create unique articles and content for your institution’s web site, advertising and advertising and advertising campaigns, and blog.
In the current economy, everyone else wants some slack up. To get small businesses with minimal budgets, so it’s crucial that you consider digital networking within an important marketing and advertising plan rather than an investment. Even though this might appear to be an unusual approach to advertise your company, if performed correctly digital marketing might be very powerful. Get in touch with a digital advertising and advertising manager to talk about ways to raise your institution’s presence online.

Buying digital websites. Since many companies possess an whole section dedicated to digital marketing, some companies utilize digital media as an additional marketing and advertising strategy. These electronic advertising and advertising departments usually consist of writers, web designers, website designers, data analysts, and other specialists who work jointly to develop new networking products for the industry. An electronic digital advertising and advertising team might assist your organization develop a larger audience, enlarge its reach, and boost its internet existence.

Handling your brand through societal networking. Social media may be the brand new banking website. Banks now are utilizing social media to interact with customers, socialize with one another, and hire employees. The new trend is to make use of interpersonal media sockets to improve client responses and build relationships with your employees, provide upgrades on news and tendencies within the market, plus even more.


Incorporation Alternatives for Small Organizations

Incorporation Alternatives for Small Organizations

To begin with an LLC is really a business. A Georgia corporation needs to possess a member and numerous associates. The name of the LLC might possibly be some name that’s applicable, the same manner that you would have if you were putting up a separate corporation in your own condition. If your business is a sole proprietorship, then you’ll have to make use of the word”sole” instead of”company” Other types of LLCs are called LLCs or corporations who have more than one member.
In Georgia you can find many alternatives to choose after forming an LLC. There are a few rules that have to be followed for the formation of an LLC at Georgia. For a LLC in Georgia to be enrolled together with the Secretary of State it must be coordinated under regulations from their country.

An LLC in Georgia cannot be coordinated by means of a name that may be the same as another already applied to a provider’s web site, business cards, or on the county clerk’s office site. If your LLC has a name that is close to another popular, that name will not qualify for incorporation in Georgia. You must work with a name that’s distinctly unique and distinctive from any other LLC. In addition, if you incorporate in any state, you’re required to improve your own LLC’s name to do not be penalized for using the name that another LLC has recently used.
When business people incorporate their own LLC, they are creating a separate entity for tax coverage. This separation also creates an advantage protection shield to your own LLC. Additionally, the accountability of the small business people are going to be reduced because they will nolonger be liable to the debts of the LLC. Therefore, incorporating your business like a business or as an LLC can give you a few significant tax relief.

LLCs are merely considered business entities for tax purposes. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all your LLC’s business decisions are made in the correct way. All business owners must register their LLC with their nation. But before you do, you must be sure you have permission from all members of one’s LLC. The IRS has detailed directions on how to register a business for tax purposes.
After filing your articles of incorporation, you will be required to submit a statement of organization with all your workplace. This includes information about your LLC such because its own name, date of creation, and its own duration. Your name, address, and also its location are also recorded within this statement.
Business people can also decide to register their LLC as a corporation in their country. But doing so will provide you different reporting rights from different LLCs. In addition, if you incorporate your LLC for a corporation, it will have to file its Form 10 taxation form. This means you’ll have to pay fees to get your Form 10 published. Therefore, in the event you opt to add as a separate entity out of your company, it could be a very good idea to include your LLC as a business.

To add Georgia, you must first get a certification of exemption. These forms differ from state to state, so it’s best to consult the Attorney General’s Office in Georgia to see what special forms your LLC has to file.


Forming an LLC in Florida

Forming an LLC in Florida

Filing with the courts is the most common approach to incorporate a company in Florida. There are several big benefits that may result from Forming an LLC in Florida. To begin with, when you record with the courts, then you are creating a legal entity for the company. The Florida Supreme Court has declared that most registered corporations have to get a board of directors. Forming an LLC in Florida also makes sure that your company name doesn’t have to be confusing with yet another organization entity.

There are currently three chief ways to add in their state of Florida: through a court ordervia a self-instigated application, or through a corporation. No matter which way you choose to go, you can find some very important things to remember whenever you start the process. Forming an LLC at Florida is really actually a intricate procedure, but it may be accomplished successfully.
Forming an LLC in Florida requires careful preparation. Every member of the LLC has to be advised of all its details, including its own name, address and its own powers. It is essential that every LLC in Florida has a separate office. This office ought to be located at the address of their filing member’s residence. All mail needs to move there.
Forming an LLC in Florida may make a huge impact in a condition taxation. LLCs are thought to be pass-through organizations and are exempt from lots of the corporate taxation rates related to s corporations. While a c corporation has to pay taxes on its own income, an LLC in Florida doesn’t need to pay for corporate income tax. If you’re thinking about creating more income for your family, an LLC may be a ideal choice for you.
An LLC in Florida cannot be registered as a thing with the objective of borrowing money. There are a number of specific stipulations that should be met before an LLC may be considered a business. Even though most small businesses consider starting as an LLC rather than a corporation, launching an LLC in Florida continues to be at the mercy of the specific demands of their state. There is additional information available on the internet.

Only two different people need to agree as a way to start the company. However, an LLC in Florida will still must enroll its company name and pay taxes if it functions out of state. Florida necessitates the filing of a certification of authority for any new or existing enterprise.
Forming an LLC in Florida is not as costly than most other methods of incorporating a company. Along with being considerably less expensive, it will require less than one day to finish the paperwork included in incorporating an LLC in Florida. Once registered with the courts, then your business will immediately be listed for trading on the available market. This allows your company to expand rapidly and never having to pay hefty prices for establishing a new trading name.
The structure of an LLC in Florida works much the same manner as that of a corporation. The only difference is an LLC from Florida is not considered a separate legal entity from the owners. It is thought to be a collection of shares owned by the members of the LLC.
If you have doubts about the legal structure of one’s organization, discuss it with an lawyer. A lawyer can let you know of most of the options that exist for youpersonally, including the formation of a limited liability corporation (LLC). Additionally, he or she is able to explain the differences between an LLC and an Scorp. To learn more about starting a new firm, speak to a lawyer now.

Forming an LLC in Florida isn’t really a tricky process. Once you’ve settled on the name of the company, location as well as other particulars, you’ll be required to submit a notice of intent together along with your state administration. The majority of business quotes may be registered online. Please be certain the filing process is performed on the right forms by the deadline. Please consult with your attorney if you’ve got questions concerning how to finish these records.

Forming an LLC in Florida is likewise quite simple because it only necessitates paying the filing fees required by the Florida Corporation Commission (FCC). Once the LLC was formally enrolled, each the filings for reporting to the IRS are made by you. Reporting to the IRS is as soon as the business enterprise actually makes money. Forming an LLC in Florida won’t result in any taxable revenue or cash flow.


Trading the Welsh Countryside for a Ranch in Wyoming


My horse was ready to bolt — his ears pricked, his muscles tense. A few feet ahead, a herd of wild horses stared back at us; they’d been unaware of us for most of our ascent from the valley below. Horned lizards shuffled in the sagebrush beneath us, but my horse’s gaze remained locked on his untamed brethren.

Moments later we were galloping at full speed beneath the rugged backdrop of the towering Absaroka Range. We fell in line with the back of the herd — alongside the foals scrambling to keep up with their mothers — and were bombarded by chunks of earth flying up from their thundering hooves. I squinted to keep the dust out of my eyes. A herd of pronghorn watched from a distance, well camouflaged among the gold-tinted grasslands of the Wind River Indian Reservation’s high-altitude plains.

In the summer of 2006, I traveled from my home country of Wales to Wyoming to spend a few months working as a horse wrangler at the Lazy L&B Ranch. There, as part of a team of seven wranglers, I took guests from around the world on exhilarating trail rides through rivers, valleys, forests, canyons and mountains, riding above 9,000 feet to find spellbinding views that stretched endlessly in every direction, without any sign of human presence.

My time in Wyoming was a fulfillment of a childhood fantasy of working as a horse wrangler on a ranch in the American West.

I grew up in a tiny hamlet in South Wales called Idole, where, from the age of 4, my thoughts and dreams were consumed by all things equine. As a child, I’d always felt most comfortable close to nature, drawn to the grit, solitude and awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world and the adventures it had to offer. Years later, it was my love of horses and the great outdoors that compelled me to pick up a camera.

While studying politics at a college in England, I learned about a remote guest ranch half an hour’s drive east of Dubois, Wyo., a small town with fewer than 1,000 permanent residents.

There, down the gravel East Fork Road, lies the Lazy L&B Ranch: a scattering of log cabins and horse corrals dotted among the cottonwood trees that line the bubbling East Fork River.

In retrospect, the time I spent in Wyoming helped prepare me, years later, for the physical demands of working in a war zone. With over 90 horses to feed and take care of, ranch life was much tougher and more physically demanding than I’d anticipated. With few home comforts, I spent countless hours in the saddle, navigating vast mountains and high-altitude deserts, often in extreme weather.

But once I’d adapted to my role as a wrangler, I became extremely fond of ranch life and of the rugged, authentic cowboy culture that surrounds it — so much so that, for more than a decade, I returned to Wyoming almost every summer, and sometimes more often, exploring its diverse and dramatic natural beauty both on foot and in the saddle.

My experience of working as a cowgirl was, of course, very different from the challenges and daily demands of America’s true cattle ranchers.

A stone’s throw from the Lazy L&B Ranch lies the Finley Ranch, a small traditional family-owned cattle ranch. Two generations ago, Duncan Finley traveled to the United States from Scotland, settling in the East Fork Valley of the Wind River. Today, Duncan’s grandson, John Finley, still lives on the family’s ranch, having left only once, to travel during military service — an experience that made him realize how wonderful the place he calls home is.

Once running 300 cattle, the Finley ranch has gradually been reduced in size since John was a boy. To generate income in the 1970s, the family sold off some of their land and the majority of their cattle, cutting the herd to around 30 head. In the 1990s, a decade-long drought plagued the area, which impacted grazing and led the family to further reduce their herd. Nowadays, John lives on the ranch with his wife, Ramona — or Monie, as she’s known — as well as four horses, 16 head of cattle and his energetic and fearless ranch dog Strider.

John has also become something of a local legend within the ranching communities near Dubois, particularly after his run-in with a grizzly bear in 2016. (His dogs, Strider and Merlin, helped save him — and the story seems to grow more dramatic with each telling.)

John is not only the embodiment of authentic Western culture, raising livestock and living off the land. He’s also a skilled and accomplished artist. From leather work and life-size bronze statues to intricate paintings on wasp-nest paper, scrimshaw and jewelry, his varied artistic creations reflect his unique talents and affinity with the natural world.

Since my first visit in 2006, and with each visit thereafter, I’ve grown increasingly attached to Wyoming — to its people, culture, nature and, of course, its horses. It also holds a special place in my heart for sparking what has become my greatest passion: photography. It was there, near the iconic Teton Mountain Range, that I first took a serious interest in capturing images of my surroundings.

While sitting on the porch after a long day in the saddle, drinking a cold beer, I showed Heath, the head wrangler, some of the photos I’d taken on my point-and-shoot camera. A man of few words, he nodded in approval and suggested I invest in a “real” camera. The rest, as they say, is history.

Claire Thomas is a British photographer and photojournalist who focuses on conflict, humanitarian and environmental crises and social issues. You can follow her work on Instagram and Twitter.

2021-07-26 09:00:17


La era del espacio como negocio ha comenzado


El aniversario del alunizaje del Apolo 11 marcó un pequeño paso para los viajes espaciales, pero un gran salto para los multimillonarios con empresas espaciales.

Este mes, Jeff Bezos y Richard Branson demostraron de manera vívida que al parecer es seguro, y sobre todo divertido, elevarse hasta los confines del cielo. Este planeta tiene tantos problemas que es un alivio escapar de él, aunque sea durante 10 minutos, que fue más o menos el tiempo de los viajes suborbitales que ofrecieron los empresarios a través de sus respectivas compañías, Blue Origin y Virgin Galactic.

Pero más allá de la estupefacción había un mensaje más profundo: la amazonificación del espacio ha iniciado. Lo que era en gran medida el territorio de los grandes gobiernos ahora constituye cada vez más la esfera de las grandes empresas tecnológicas. Las personas que nos vendieron el internet ahora nos venderán la Luna y las estrellas

Bezos, el fundador de Amazon y todavía su principal accionista, dejó claro en la conferencia de prensa que convocó después del vuelo del martes que Blue Origin estaba lista para atender clientes. Pese a que los boletos no estaban disponibles en general, las ventas para los vuelos ya casi llegan a los 100 millones de dólares. Bezos no mencionó cuál era el precio de cada vuelo, pero añadió: “La demanda es sumamente alta”.

Esa demanda estaba ahí incluso antes de que los medios noticiosos de todo el mundo fueran en tropel a Van Horn, Texas, para dar una cobertura extensa y halagüeña de Bezos haciendo algo que Branson hizo la semana previa en Nuevo México. Vieron un evento planeado con gran detalle, en el que la astronauta más vieja y el más joven del mundo hicieron el viaje juntos y que fue coronado por un sorteo filantrópico de 200 millones de dólares.

Incluso Elon Musk, director general de la empresa rival SpaceX y quien, en ocasiones, se ha mostrado desconfiado de los sueños espaciales de Bezos, se sintió obligado a felicitarlo. Lo mismo hizo Branson, quien pudo presumir que le ganó la delantera porque voló un poco antes. Musk fue a despedir a Branson.

Toda esta actividad espacial es el inicio de algo nuevo, pero también una repetición de lo sucedido en la década de 1990. Al principio de esos años, internet era propiedad del gobierno y tenía por objetivo la investigación y la comunicación entre unas cuantas personas. Al final, gracias a Bezos más que a nadie más, se convirtió en un lugar para que todos compraran cosas. Durante los siguientes 20 años, las empresas de tecnología se desarrollaron y se convirtieron en gigantes tecnológicos, lo cual provocó temores bipartidistas de que Amazon, Facebook, Google y Apple ahora sean demasiado poderosos.

Es posible que ahora podamos embarcarnos al espacio exterior en un viaje parecido desde los mercados alternativos hasta los grandes negocios.

Durante décadas, la NASA no tuvo el financiamiento necesario como para realizar algo tan épico como el programa Apolo. El gobierno de Donald Trump decretó regresar a la Luna para 2024. El gobierno de Joe Biden refrendó ese propósito, pero no la fecha. Si eso llega a suceder, será con la ayuda de empresas como SpaceX y Blue Origin. A diferencia del proyecto Apolo en la década de 1960, el próximo viaje a la Luna será subcontratado.

Los proyectos espaciales menos ambiciosos están muy abiertos para los empresarios.

“Si vemos la etapa en la que se encuentra la exploración espacial hoy en día, sobre todo con las actividades de la órbita terrestre baja, en verdad es algo parecido a las primeras épocas de internet”, comentó West Griffin, director financiero de Axiom, una empresa emergente que pretende construir la primera estación espacial comercial.

La comercialización del espacio comenzó durante el auge de las puntocom en la década de 1990, pero tardó mucho más en materializarse. Los vuelos de este mes se remontan a 1996, cuando la organización sin fines de lucro X Prize anunció un concurso con un premio de 10 millones de dólares para la primera organización no gubernamental que construyera una nave espacial reutilizable que pudiera llevar a alguien a una altitud de 100 kilómetros, o 62,5 millas, y que lo lograra en menos de dos semanas.

El diseño ganador en 2004 resultó ser SpaceShipOne en un esfuerzo dirigido por Burt Rutan, un ingeniero aeroespacial que diseñó el avión Voyager que voló alrededor del mundo sin detenerse ni repostar. Fue financiado por Paul Allen, cofundador de Microsoft que murió en 2018.

El concurso también despertó el interés de Branson. En 1999 registró la marca “Virgin Galactic Airways” y obtuvo la licencia de la tecnología SpaceShipOne. Branson esperaba que una versión más grande pudiera iniciar vuelos comerciales en tres años. En cambio, tomó 17 años.

Un ecosistema de empresas emergentes cada vez más grande intenta comercializar el espacio al construir todo, desde la tecnología de lanzamiento más barata hasta los satélites más pequeños y la infraestructura que conforma los “picos y palas” de la fiebre del oro del espacio, como lo describe Meagan Crawford, socia administrativa de la empresa de capital de riesgo SpaceFund.

“La gente mira a su alrededor y dice: ‘Vemos esta sólida industria espacial. ¿De dónde salió?’”, comentó Crawford. “Bueno, ha sido construida de manera metódica y con determinación, y llegar hasta aquí ha implicado muchísimo trabajo durante los últimos 30 años”.

Los inversionistas gastaron 7000 millones de dólares en la financiación de nuevas empresas espaciales en 2020, el doble de la cantidad de los dos años previos, según Bryce Tech, una firma de análisis espacial.

“Lo que todos estamos tratando de hacer es lo que hicieron Jeff, Richard y Elon hace 20 años: construir grandes negocios. La diferencia es que estamos construyendo negocios en el espacio y ellos construyeron sus negocios en la tierra”, dijo Chris Kemp, director ejecutivo de Astra, una empresa emergente centrada en ofrecer lanzamientos más pequeños, más baratos y más frecuentes.

La primera carrera espacial, que se extendió a lo largo de los años sesenta y luego se agotó en los setenta, enfrentó a un gobierno estadounidense temerario y audaz contra una Unión Soviética malévola y sin encanto alguno. Los estadounidenses ganaron esa competencia, aunque los críticos alegaron que todo era un error en una época en que tantas cosas dentro del país requerían atención y dinero.

¿Y esta vez? Ocurre algo muy parecido, aunque ahora es personal. Una petición que solicitaba que no se le permitiera a Bezos volver a la Tierra alcanzó 180.000 firmas virtuales. La senadora demócrata por Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, tuiteó: “Es hora de que Jeff Bezos se ocupe de sus asuntos en la Tierra y pague los impuestos que le corresponden”.

El tuit tuvo más de 260,000 “me gusta”, aunque también recibió respuestas como esta: “Nadie está atacando el espacio. Estamos atacando a los multimillonarios que amasaron grandes fortunas a costa de una fuerza laboral explotada”.

El lunes, en una entrevista con CNN desde la base de lanzamiento en Texas, Bezos comentó que sus críticos “en gran medida tenían razón”.

“Tenemos que hacer ambas cosas”, señaló. “Tenemos muchos problemas aquí y ahora en la Tierra y tenemos que hallarles solución. Además, tenemos que ver hacia el futuro”.

No obstante, es evidente cuál enfoque ocupa su atención. Cuando pronunció el discurso de fin de curso de su generación del bachillerato en 1982, Bezos habló de la importancia de crear una vida en inmensas colonias que floten en el espacio para millones de personas. “Toda la idea es preservar la Tierra”, afirmó The Miami Herald que había dicho en ese momento y añadió que su objetivo primordial era ver el planeta “convertido en un enorme parque nacional”.

La semana pasada, Bezos dijo casi lo mismo. Era un sueño utópico con muchas piezas móviles complicadas; así como, en menor escala, la idea de que un comerciante, en algún momento, vendería todo a todos y haría entregas en cuestión de horas. Y para sorpresa de casi todos, él lo hizo posible.

Branson fundó Virgin Orbit, otra rama espacial que está poniendo en órbita pequeños cargamentos. No ha hecho alusión a ninguna visión grandiosa como Musk y Bezos sobre hacer llegar la civilización al sistema solar.

Los sueños de Musk acerca de Marte comenzaron con una aventura quijotesca: quería mandar una planta a Marte para ver si esta podía crecer ahí. Pero los costos de lanzar incluso un pequeño experimento eran prohibitivos. Incluso las opciones en Rusia eran inalcanzables. Así que Musk fundó SpaceX en 2002.

Ahora desea enviar personas a Marte, no plantas. En la actualidad, SpaceX está desarrollando Starship, una nave lo suficientemente grande como para que haga el viaje, y Starlink, una red de internet satelital, que pretende generar las ganancias necesarias para financiar los planes para Marte.

Mientras busca esos objetivos, la empresa se ha convertido en un gigante del negocio espacial. La NASA usa los cohetes y las cápsulas de SpaceX para enviar astronautas y mercancías a la Estación Espacial Internacional y operadores satelitales privados, gubernamentales y militares usan el cohete impulsor reutilizable Falcon 9 para entrar en órbita.

En fechas recientes, la NASA le otorgó un contrato a SpaceX con el fin de usar el prototipo de Starship para el programa lunar. El contrato fue disputado por Blue Origin y por otra empresa llamada Dynetics. A pesar de toda la camaradería que se vio esta semana, los multimillonarios juegan para ganar.

Kenneth Chang colaboró en este reportaje.

David Streitfeld ha escrito sobre la tecnología y sus efectos durante veinte años. En 2013, formó parte del equipo que ganó un Premio Pulitzer por sus trabajos explicativos.

2021-07-23 09:00:33


The Amazonification of Space Begins in Earnest


The anniversary of the Apollo moon landing marked one small step for space travel but a giant leap for space billionaires.

Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson vividly demonstrated this month that soaring up to the near reaches of the sky appeared safe and, above all, a lark. The planet has so many problems that it is a relief to escape them even for 10 minutes, which was about the length of the suborbital rides offered by the entrepreneurs through their respective companies, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.

But beyond the dazzlement was a deeper message: The Amazonification of space has begun in earnest. What was once largely the domain of big government is now increasingly the realm of Big Tech. The people who sold you the internet will now sell you the moon and the stars.

Mr. Bezos, the founder of Amazon and still its largest shareholder, made clear at the news conference after Tuesday’s flight that Blue Origin was open for business. Even though tickets were not generally available, sales for flights were already approaching $100 million. Mr. Bezos didn’t say what the price for each was but added, “The demand is very very high.”

That demand was there even before the world’s media flocked to Van Horn, Texas, for extensive and adulatory coverage of Mr. Bezos doing something Mr. Branson had done in New Mexico the week before. They saw a carefully orchestrated event, with the world’s oldest-ever astronaut and the world’s youngest along for the ride, capped by a $200 million philanthropic giveaway.

Even Elon Musk, chief executive of rival SpaceX and a sometimes skeptic of Mr. Bezos’ space dreams, felt compelled to offer his congratulations. So did Mr. Branson, who got bragging rights by making his flight first. Mr. Musk went to see Mr. Branson off.

All of this space activity is the start of something new but also a replay of the 1990s. At the beginning of that decade, the internet was government property devoted to research and communication for a few. By the end, thanks to Mr. Bezos more than anyone, it was a place for everyone to buy things. Over the next 20 years, tech grew up and became Big Tech, provoking bipartisan fears that Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple are now too powerful.

Outer space might now be embarked on a similar journey from frontier to big business.

For decades, NASA did not get enough funding to do anything as epic as the Apollo program. The Trump administration decreed a return to the moon by 2024. The Biden administration has endorsed the goal but not the date. If it happens at all, it will be with the assistance of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. In contrast to the Apollo project in the 1960s, the next trip to the moon will be outsourced.

Smaller space ventures are even more wide open to entrepreneurs.

“If you look at where space is today, especially with respect to lower Earth orbit activities, it really is similar to the early days of the internet,” said West Griffin, chief financial officer of Axiom, a start-up aiming to build the first commercial space station.

The commercialization of space began during the 1990s dot-com boom but took much longer to reach fruition. The flights this month hark back to 1996, when the nonprofit organization X Prize announced a contest: $10 million to the first nongovernmental organization to build a reusable spacecraft that could take someone to an altitude of 100 kilometers, or 62.5 miles, and then do it again in less than two weeks.

The winning design in 2004 turned out to be SpaceShipOne in an effort led by Burt Rutan, an aerospace engineer who previously designed the Voyager airplane that flew around the world without stopping or refueling. It was financed by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft who died in 2018.

The X Prize piqued Mr. Branson’s interest, too. He trademarked “Virgin Galactic Airways” in 1999, and licensed the SpaceShipOne technology. Mr. Branson hoped that a larger version could begin commercial flights within three years. It took 17 years instead.

A swelling ecosystem of start-ups is attempting to commercialize space by building everything from cheaper launch technology to smaller satellites to the infrastructure making up the “pickaxes and shovels” of space’s gold rush, as Meagan Crawford, a managing partner at the venture capital firm SpaceFund, puts it.

“People are looking around going: ‘There’s this robust space industry. Where did that come from?’” Ms. Crawford said. “Well, it’s been built methodically and purposefully, and it’s been a lot of hard work over the last 30 years to get us here.”

Investors poured $7 billion into funding space start-ups in 2020, double the amount from just two years prior, according to the space analytics firm Bryce Tech.

“What we’re all trying to do now is do what Jeff and Richard and Elon did 20 years ago, which is just build great businesses, except we’re building businesses in space from the very beginning and they built their businesses on earth,” said Chris Kemp, the chief executive of Astra, a start-up focused on providing smaller, cheaper and more frequent launches.

The first space race, which stretched the length of the 1960s and then ran out of steam in the 1970s, pitted a brash can-do United States government against a malevolent and charmless Soviet Union. The Americans won that competition, although critics argued that it was all a mistake in an era when so many domestic issues needed attention and money.

This time? Pretty much the same, although now it’s personal. A petition requesting that Mr. Bezos not be allowed to return to earth drew 180,000 virtual signatures. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat, tweeted: “It’s time for Jeff Bezos to take care of business right here on Earth and pay his fair share in taxes.”

Mr. Musk tweeted a defense of space projects that was written in a laconic style reminiscent of the poet E.E. Cummings:

those who attack space

maybe don’t realize that

space represents hope

for so many people

The tweet drew more than a quarter-million “likes,” although also responses like this: “Nobody is attacking space. We’re attacking billionaires who amassed vast fortunes on the backs of an exploited work force.”

In an interview with CNN on Monday from the Texas launch site, Mr. Bezos said his critics were “largely right.”

“We have to do both,” he said. “We have lots of problems in the here and now on Earth, and we need to work on those. And we always need to look at the future.”

But it’s clear which perspective engages his attention. As valedictorian of his high school class in 1982, Mr. Bezos talked about the importance of creating a life in huge free-floating space colonies for millions of people. “The whole idea is to preserve the earth,” The Miami Herald quoted him as saying at the time, adding that his ultimate objective was to see the planet “turned into a huge national park.”

Mr. Bezos said much the same thing this week. It was a utopian dream with many complicated moving parts — just like, on a smaller scale, the notion of a retailer that would sell everything to everyone and make deliveries in hours. And to the surprise of nearly everyone, he made that work.

Mr. Branson has started another space offshoot, Virgin Orbit, that is launching small payloads to orbit. He has not hinted at grandiose visions like Mr. Musk and Mr. Bezos for spreading civilization into the solar system.

Mr. Musk’s Mars dreams began with a small quixotic quest: He wanted to send a plant to Mars and see if it could grow there. But the costs of launching even a small experiment were prohibitive. Even options in Russia were out of reach. So Mr. Musk founded SpaceX in 2002.

Today, he wants to send people, not plants, to Mars. SpaceX is currently developing Starship, large enough to make the journey, and Starlink, a satellite internet constellation, which aims to generate the profits needed to finance the Mars plans.

As it pursues those goals, the company has become a behemoth in the space business. NASA relies on SpaceX rockets and capsules to send astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station, and private, government and military satellite operators fly the reusable Falcon 9 booster rocket to orbit.

NASA recently awarded a contract to SpaceX to use its Starship prototype for the moon program. The contract was challenged by Blue Origin and another firm, Dynetics. For all the camaraderie on display this week, the billionaires play to win.

Kenneth Chang contributed reporting.