Burt Rutan Sells Out

Scaled Composites sold.

Given that Paul Allen and Sir Richard Branson between them have a couple of zillion dollars, I can’t see Rutan doing this because he needs the money, or even Northrop’s expertise.

He’s 64. Maybe age has finally caught up with him?

Yeah but Rutan is concept, R&D,and prototyping. To get to the next stage for what he wants , he needs Northrop or Boeing onboard. And most likely to get the FAA onboard if the spaceship one idea becomes mainstream.


I wouldn’t be so hard on Burt. Both Allen and Branson, being extremely astute businessmen, may have had considerable influence on the deal. They may have had majority ownership. Burt can maintain the title of director of engineering, and hopefully be the blue sky genius designer. Northrop has considerable manufacturing expertise which is difficult to build up and scale and finance for a small aerospace company.

I would’ve thought that Boeing would’ve been a better choice due to their lightweight composite manufacturing expertise as evidenced in the 787. But, they must’ve liked the Northrop deal better.

Rutan’s had experience on the commercial sales side of things as he started out selling kitplanes of his own design. Of course, maybe that’s why he wanted sell. :wink:

Or, he’s leaving to start a new project, and needs the dough.

Or his project is so ambitious that it needs the resources of a Northrop or Boeing.

Or Northrop has manufacturing facilities he needs.

Or he hates the ‘dealing with government’ side of the business, and is happy to have Northrop worry about that.

Since we don’t know any details about the deal, we don’t really know Rutan’s motivation. This could be a very good thing, or it could be just another small company swallowed up by a corporate behemoth, and their natural risk-aversion will kill innovation at Scaled. Who knows?

Like the article said, Northrop already owned 40% before this recent deal. IOW, they controlled everything but Burt himself. And they’ve had that 40% for some time. If Rutan ever sold out morally speaking, it was then, not now.

This latest deal is simply about them getting the rest of control before the cost would be prohibitive after whatever they’re cooking up goes commercial.