• Here’s a glimpse of what commercial spacecraft will look like
  • Write down the name of this early stage biotech company
  • Elon Musk’s master plan is even bolder than I imagined…

Dear Reader,

Thank you to those who took the time to join me for my first-ever biotech master class last night.

We are living in an age of rapid technological development that has brought us explosive trends like 5G wireless technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud-based software solutions, self-driving cars, and – of course – personalized medicine and biotechnology.

Biotech was late to the party. While these other big trends have been in motion for years, we are just now starting to see exponential growth in the biotech sector.

Not too long ago, this industry was a lot more “bio” than it was “tech.” Think white lab coats, a lot of wet work, and test tubes everywhere.

But that’s not the case today. The biotechnology companies I follow are deploying bleeding-edge technology that is already leading to amazing breakthroughs. Indeed, we are seeing unbelievable developments in this space.

It’s become clear that the 2020s are going to be the decade of biotechnology. This will be the first decade in which biotech companies truly harness the power of Moore’s Law and demonstrate exponential growth. We’ll be well-positioned to capitalize on this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

So for anyone interested but unable to attend my master class last night, I have asked my publisher to make it available to readers of The Bleeding Edge for another week at no cost. Just go right here for the replay.

And thank you again for taking the time to read, and hopefully enjoy, The Bleeding Edge.

Let’s turn to today’s topics…

Commercial spaceflight is almost here…

We’ll start today with exciting news from the budding commercial spaceflight industry. Virgin Galactic just unveiled the interior design of its SpaceShipTwo. And it’s pretty outstanding… Let’s have a look:

Cabin Interior of SpaceShipTwo

Source: Virgin Galactic

How beautiful is that? I love the seat designs and all the portals for maximizing the view of earth and space.

We first talked about Virgin Galactic way back in July of last year. To bring newer readers up to speed, this company is one of the key companies pioneering space tourism.

Its goal is to take passengers up to suborbital space in SpaceShipTwo so they can experience a few minutes of weightlessness and take in the views. Then the spacecraft will glide back down to Earth and land on a runway, just like a normal plane.

If we go to Virgin Galactic’s website, we can reserve a seat to be on one of the early flights. More than 600 people have put down a deposit already.

But as we might imagine, it isn’t cheap. Ticket prices are $250,000 today. That isn’t exactly a price point that will drive large-scale tourism, but it is just a matter of time until that price falls in half and eventually to the tens of thousands of dollars.

Eventually, commercial spaceflight will be accessible to a large segment of the population as the industry grows and matures.

The fact that Virgin is revealing its SpaceShipTwo interior design tells us that the company is getting closer to its commercial launch.

Think about it…

The company is now working on its visuals, how it will market its service to space. And it is exciting to see how the major players are seemingly jockeying for position in the industry.

We have talked about SpaceX a few times this week. And Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is making great progress as well. Now we have Virgin Galactic getting down to the minor details of its design. I predict we’re within 12 months of Virgin’s first launch. And the same is likely true for Blue Origin.

We’re on the verge of a new age of space exploration. As Elon Musk said earlier this week, “When space travel becomes as common as air travel, the future of civilization will be assured.”

That day is closer than many of us realize.

Another major biotech breakthrough…

We just got amazing results from an early stage biotechnology company called AskBio. Hardly anybody has heard of this company, but it has pioneered gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

This is a horrible disease that causes the muscles to waste away. And it’s caused by a missing protein called dystrophin. This protein helps keep muscles healthy. Patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy have a mutated version of the dystrophin gene.

Well, the results of a gene therapy treatment administered two years ago show that AskBio has successfully developed a therapy for this awful disease.

In clinical trials, AskBio tested its gene therapy on a young boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. His condition was so bad prior to the treatment that he couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs.

AskBio used a special virus called an adeno-associated virus (AAV) to deliver a functional dystrophin gene to the boy’s muscles. It injected the virus into his body, and the virus carried the functional gene where it needed to go.

It worked almost immediately. Three weeks after treatment, this little boy was running up the stairs. And now, two years later, the boy is doing great. Remarkable. A single gene added, and three weeks later a completely different kid. Awesome.

Gene therapy for complex diseases like this is new territory. Developments like these have just happened within the last few years. The reality is that AskBio doesn’t know how long its gene therapy will last. Is the boy cured for life? Will he need periodic treatments over time? AskBio will do follow-ups with this boy to find out.

This is a fantastic breakthrough for gene therapy, and it reaffirms my belief that precision medicine will allow us to cure all human disease of genetic origin.

And, of course, this news makes AskBio a promising private company to watch. Let’s add it to our early stage watchlist.

Tesla’s master plan may be even bigger than I thought…

Elon Musk has been on an incredible run this year. With the recent return of the SpaceX astronauts and the soaring share price of Tesla (TSLA), Musk’s companies have had a great 2020.

But I believe those achievements could pale in comparison to what comes next…

Tesla recently indicated that it would consider licensing its self-driving software and battery technology to other carmakers. CEO Elon Musk said that the company’s goal is not to crush competitors but to help accelerate the world’s progress toward electric vehicles (EVs) and clean energy.

This caused my ears to perk up. Musk’s statement may seem fluffy on the surface, but it is loaded.

We talked last month about what I believe Tesla’s “masterstroke” is – a shared autonomous vehicle network.

This will be a ride-hailing network like Uber and Lyft… but for self-driving Teslas. Tesla owners can opt-in to the network when they aren’t using their car. And the car will go out and make money for them by giving people rides. Suddenly, owning a Tesla becomes a source of income.

The economics of this model will be so compelling that Tesla will be able to sell cars almost as if they were free. That’s because the cars will make enough money to pay for themselves. With a model like that, everyone could afford the car. Even people with bad credit.

But with Musk’s recent announcement, I sense there is an even bigger play at hand here.

Tesla has a massive lead in the self-driving space because it has the data from billions of miles driven by Teslas on Autopilot. Not even Google has anything close to this much data from self-driving cars.

And that data is what makes Tesla’s AI better than anything else on the market. The more situations it experiences on the road, the better decisions it makes in real time.

Other players in the industry continue to make disparaging comments about how far away fully autonomous technology is, but behind closed doors, they are shaking in their boots… Tesla’s lead is frightening.

It would take other carmakers several years and billions of dollars of research and development to come anywhere close to where Tesla is today. And no other car company is currently developing electric vehicles that are flying off the shelf like Tesla’s cars…

Here is what this all means… Tesla could become the operating system (OS) for other cars. Instead of trying to play catch-up, carmakers could license Tesla’s self-driving technology.

To get an idea of what this would look like, consider Google’s Android operating system for smartphones.

Companies like Samsung, LG, Motorola, and others make smartphones, but they don’t create the software those phones run. Instead, they license that software from Google. They license the software and integrate it onto their hardware.

And it may surprise us to know that Google’s Android commands over 85% market share for smartphone operating systems. I always get a kick out of hearing people say that Apple is a monopoly.

Apple’s iOS enabled phones only command a 12–13% market share in smartphones in any given quarter. Android OS dominates the industry with near-monopoly status, and it receives almost all of the profits from the industry due to its data surveillance tactics.

Tesla could do the same thing. It could become the go-to operating system for autonomous vehicles. And then look at what happens…

Suddenly, Tesla’s software would be running on far more cars than it could make itself. Imagine walking into a Ford dealer and seeing a sign: The New Ford F-150, Powered by Tesla Autopilot. That’s what’s at stake here.

Tesla might even capture the majority market share in the industry – more cars on the road would be running Tesla’s system than not.

Of course, that would allow Tesla to collect a lot more data every day, making its self-driving AI even better. And it would allow Tesla’s shared autonomous vehicle fleet to be even bigger. Talk about a masterstroke.

And here’s the best part – this would benefit the legacy carmakers tremendously. They could just focus on making the car, which is the part they are good at, and they won’t have to worry about the software anymore. It’s a win-win for the industry and consumers.

I’ve said it for years, but it bears repeating. Tesla is not a traditional automaker. It’s a bleeding-edge artificial intelligence technology company. And its best years are still ahead of it.

Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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