Today’s guest is Jordan Noone, the cofounder and founding CTO of Relativity Space. Noone now holds the same titles at Embedded Ventures, a self-described deeptech VC “skunkworks” that Noone runs with cofounder Jenna Bryant.
Today’s guest is Jordan Noone, the cofounder and founding CTO of Relativity Space. Noone now holds the same titles at Embedded Ventures, a self-described deeptech VC “skunkworks” that Noone runs with cofounder Jenna Bryant. Embedded Ventures has partnered with the US Space Force on R&D, and backed early-stage startups like Slingshot Aerospace and Inversion. Jordan is also the cofounder and CEO of KittyCAD, which aims to reinvent how engineers and companies create hardware products.
On the Relativity front, Jordan helped scale up the company’s additive manufacturing capabilities and hone the rest of the startup’s tech stack. Today, Relativity’s Terran 1 is vertical on the pad in Florida for final tests, before the company conducts an orbital launch attempt this summer. Terran 1 is a 110-foot-tall expendable rocket, and according to Relativity, the largest 3D printed object to exist and to attempt orbital flight. Relativity’s first Terran 1 is 85% 3D printed by mass.
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And now without further ado, here’s a glimpse into the range of discussion topics in today’s episode:
- Background in brief
- Jordan’s rebellious streaks as a student and his take on medieval history
- Heading up USC’s Rocket Propulsion Lab, a finishing school for rocket junkies
- Interning, then working full-time, at SpaceX
- Meeting cofounder Tim Ellis (who was on Pathfinder #0009)
- Becoming the youngest person to get an FAA license to launch a rocket to space
- Getting accepted into and graduating from Y Combinator (YC W16, to be exact)
- The advantages of 3D printing combustion chambers, engines, and other rocket parts
- All the other aspects of Relativity’s tech stack that differentiate it from other rocket makers
- Why Jordan left Relativity after roughly five years
- Bringing the design and product ethos of Silicon Valley to the world of defense
- Graduating from startup founder to the other side of the boardroom table: VC investor
- Market conditions and what Jordan’s seeing with pricing rounds, startup valuations, etc.
- The downstream effects of space SPACs on future industry financing
- Conflicted cap tables and the geopolitical aspects of venture capital
- Leading KittyCAD, which brings software automation to the hardware world
- Building the Stripe of the hardware world
…and much more! This was a long one, and there’s plenty of other great nuggets and stories buried in the full episode. We’ll leave it to you to discover them yourselves.
0:00 – Intro and Jordan’s background in brief
02:05 – Rundown of Jordan’s résumé left of starting Relativity, from rebellious streaks as a student to his take on medieval history
06:15 – How did the USC administration react to a group of students trying to do something that few other countries, let alone college students, had ever done?
11:15 – Interning, then working full-time, at SpaceX … and how SpaceX gives its early-stage employees an impressive amount of substantive projects.
13:50 – Jordan was the first student to receive what?!
14:04 – One does not simply launch a rocket into space. We give a glimpse into the hoops that you need to jump through, from calling NORAD to filling out reams of legal paperwork, to launch a rocket into space
19:10 – Starting a multi-billion dollar company at 22, cold-emailing Mark Cuban, and going through Y Combinator (Relativity was in the YC W16 batch)
23:41 – Taking a deeper look into the positives and negatives of 3D printing. What are the technical advantages of 3D printing combustion chambers, engines, and other rocket parts?
28:22 – Transitioning from Relativity back to the earliest stages of company formation … “I was very hungry to go back to an earlier stage”
31:50 – The genesis story of Embedded Ventures, how Jordan linked up with Embedded cofounder Jenna Bryant, and her backstory
34:52 – A look at the all-mighty CFIUS (the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States)
36:04 – Jordan frequently uses the term “clean capital.” What does he mean by that?
44:20 – Graduating from startup founder to the other side of the boardroom table: VC investor and first-time fund manager
52:31 – Leading KittyCAD, which aims to brings software automation and manufacturing digitalization to the hardware world
55:30 – Are the founders of KittyCAD cat people?
59:50 – “If you can explain it to your grandmother, a venture capitalist will understand it”
1:04:04 – Hot takes (or most contrarian views) on the space industry … spoiler alert: “we’re in the worst spot for encouraging national security entrance”
1:10:05 – Jordan’s advice for students who want to break into the commercial space industry