What Happened to the Future?

Stunning, transfixed, thrilled. There are rare moments in history when the world comes together to share in the awe and surprise of a risky vision come true. Space X’s Falcon launch last week, left us speechless. Many could only say as Elon Musk did, 'Holy flying f***, that thing took off!'

I just did a Google search and it’s hard to find – or should I say there isn’t – an equally inspiring event that draws a simultaneous and worldwide thrilled crowd in the way that a rocket launched for space exploration does. If you were around in 1969, you know exactly where you were watching Neil Armstrong be the first man to walk on the moon. The same will hold true for Falcon Heavy .

Can you recall another internationally inspiring moment?

As it’s Olympic season, there are plenty of remarkable stories of courage and sportsmanship such Eddie the Eagle, or Nikki Hamblin from New Zealand – rightfully praised for stopping to help Abby D’Agostino (US) when they collided midway through their race, where Nikki could have, and likely was expected to just respectfully run on.

What a show the Falcon launch was (rewatch the entire flight here) and what a sight it was to see those boosters touch back down to earth like a pair of perfectly synchronized ballet dancers.

So cool. And yet, I was a little embarrassed. What has happened to our American spirit of curiosity, experimentation, empathy for the greater good (what would our forefathers say? JFK?). SpaceX is the vision and purpose of one man who rallied and inspired others, risked his vast personal fortune and professional reputation to do something remarkable when at every turn many questioned the seeming certainty of financial loss, explosive danger, and uncertain return (this is, after all, rocket science).

If media reports are to be believed, it’s took a whopping $90 million dollars to put a Tesla Roadster into orbit. On the one hand, that’s simply branding and performance art on a celestial scale. The scale of the show masks a real reason, a real purpose that could not be more noble: scientific knowledge, security, human advancement and national morale.

What does $90M buy

It doesn't necessarily take a genius to raise $90M these days. And often, for much less in return. Let’s take a moment to talk relative investments: The Border Wall is estimated to cost $70B to build and $150M to maintain per annum. Netflix put $90M behind Bright, a fantasy movie widely panned by critics for its lack of fictional depth. CrunchBase says the average venture-backed growth-stage startup requires $41M.

It’s not about the money. It’s not about capitalism.

In addition to Musk, who would fund SpaceX? For one: Founders Fund. I was intrigued by their introduction, What happened to the future? And, while we all must put food on the table, roofs over our heads and have thriving economic engines across the globe, we must strive for not just what’s profitable, but what’s possible and progressive for all.

It's important to provide for ourselves. But it’s equally important to help our fellow man and to push forward the boundaries of our collective capabilities.

Where the future must be today.

Create things and make it happen: use our resources big and small (financial capital, collaborative brainpower, rigor and tenacity) to go beyond the everyday to transform $90M for example, into helping 90M lives. We need passionate leaders with grit and willingness to roll up their sleeves and do the hard and oftentimes uncertain work.


1.   Learn from what Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan are teaming up to do.

2.    Participate in Revolution and be a part of building life-changing companies.

3.    Move some of your investments into Impact Investments.

4.    Volunteer: pay it forward and see the world from a fresh perspective,

5.    Design and activate your corporate purpose: do something bigger than what you can do alone. What’s the reason for having a company anyway?

Jane LauterbackComment