a16z Podcast

The Data Highway Above with Privateer’s Steve Wozniak, Alex Fielding, and Dr. Moriba Jah

Steve Wozniak, Alex Fielding, and Moriba Jah

Posted November 9, 2022

Many people consider space to be the next frontier and equally an infinite horizon to explore. But the reality is that not all “space” is the same and there are strategic zones that don’t only matter up there – but down here on Earth. Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) is one of those regions – a zone filled with satellites that support life on Earth, from agriculture to climate to navigation to defense. Unfortunately, these live satellites are not alone in our space highways. LEO is getting increasingly clogged with space debris; we’re polluting our skies just like we’re polluting our land.

In this episode, we have the pleasure of speaking with all three cofounders of Privateer – Steve Wozniak, Alex Fielding, and Dr. Moriba Jah, as they explore just how much junk is up there, how this challenge is expected to progress with time due to lower launch costs, and ultimately, what infrastructure is missing in this fragile ecosystem – from tracking to global treaties to a sharing economy of satellites.

By the end of the episode, listeners should be more equipped to understand how our infrastructure in space vastly impacts life on Earth, how the preservation of this ecosystem is crucial, and how Privateer is providing the map to better understand and fix the issue.

Show Notes

With Steve Wozniak

00:00 – Intro

3:24 – Why space and why now?

8:55 – The changing perception around space

13:29 – Exponential technologies and thinking different

16:32 – Inventors vs engineers vs visionaries

18:46 – Early days at Apple and moving towards the future

20:53 – Steve’s personal fascinations

23:58 – How vocabulary drives awareness

1:21:55 – Woz returns!

With Alex Fielding and Dr. Moriba Jah

24:43 – Is space really an infinite void?

25:55 – The growing pollution in space

29:14 – The impact of space down on Earth

30:34 – The challenge of space policy and governance

38:27 – Orbital highways and carrying capacities

41:05 – Dependence on space infrastructure and its fragility

45:14 – Privateer’s role in the evolving ecosystem

46:52 – Democratizing space through data sharing

49:45 – Can we undo the damage that’s been done?

52:01 – Determining intent in space

58:17 – Talent needed in the space industry

1:01:04 – Privateer’s biggest challenges

1:09:22 – Space stewardship and Hawaii’s kuleana

1:15:19 – Who inspires Alex?