Explaining Southern California's economy

Space business: Are rocks the next big thing? Deep Space Industries thinks so

Archimedes concept

Bryan Versteeg

Deep Space Industries plans to explore, analyze, mine, and ultimately extract valuable resources from asteroids.

A brand new company called "Deep Space Industries" (DSI) revealed itself on Tuesday to a public that just can't get enough of orbital metallurgy and final frontier that, as we know from numerous James Cameron movies, will be all about taking mining out of earthbound shafts and sending it to the stars! 

The event was held at the Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport and featured the executive and scientific team of DSI laying out the case for a future in which their company uses the abundant raw materials of "near Earth asteroids" (NEAs) to create everything from tools to solar panels to rocket fuel.

The presentation was entertainingly emceed by a long-lost friend of mine, Geoff Notkin, who some years ago moved to Arizona to commit full-time to meteorite hunting and has since starred in a realty TV show, "Meteorite Men," in the process becoming an authority on rocks that have fallen from outer space. 

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PHOTOS: Top 10 California business and economics stories of 2012

Apple Introduces iPhone 5

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple introduces the iPhone 5 in San Francisco. It was the first time that the technology juggernaut, the most valuable California company by far, introduced a new device since Steve Jobs' death. Will it be enough to make Apple the world's first $1 trillion company in 2013?

Rupert Murdoch

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times along with dozens of other media properties, finally exited bankruptcy on New Year's Eve. Now the real fun can begin in the City of Angels: Who will buy the hometown paper? Could it be...Rupert Murdoch?

elon musk

Photo Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk watches Dragon's progress inside of SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne in May. The former PayPal founder whose other company in electric carmaker Tesla Motors put California's space business back on the map — and ushered in a new era of private voyages to the stars. But will he really be able to retire on Mars?

George Lucas Poses With A Group Of "Star Wars" Inspired Disney Characters At Disney's Hollywood Studios

Handout/Getty Images

Disney CEO Bob Iger completes a trip of high-profile acquisitions, beginning with Pixar, then moving on to Marvel, culminating with a purchase of Lucasfilm from George Lucas. "Star Wars" now belongs to the Mighty Mouse — and Episode 7 is on the way! But will Disney be able to inject new life into one of pop cultures iconic entertainment franchises?

Reed Saxon

California was crushed by the housing downturn. But fours years after the bottom fell out, the state's real estate market at last began to show signs of life, as the foreclosure crisis fades and a price bubble even began to form in Southern California. Will the market return to normal in 2013?

FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.

Former Google superstar Marissa Mayer took the helm at troubled Yahoo, after a ugly battle between the board of directors and activist shareholder Dan Loeb. Mayer began to make immediate management changes, brought back free food, became one of the most powerful female CEOs on the U.S. — and had a baby! Can she live up to the hype in 2013?

CinemaCon 2011 - Day 2

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The battle for the future of online content heated up. In early 2012, Silicon Valley and Hollywood dueled in Washington, D.C., over anti-piracy legislation. Hollywood had the lobbying power, embodied by former senator Chris Dodd and the MPAA. But Silicon Valley won a critical skirmish in the eleventh hour by blacking out Wikipedia for a day. Will the combatants be able to strike a truce in 2013?

Job Seekers  Meet With Recruiters At Job Fair

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At the tail end of 2013, California's unemployment rate dropped into single digits for the first time since 2009. And compared with the rest of the U.S., the state spent 2012 adding jobs at a brisk clip. But will the recovery be able to sustain its momentum in 2013?

 bankrupt pensions

Steven Cuevas / KPCC

San Bernardino fell off its own fiscal cliff in 2012 — and fell fast, declaring bankruptcy quicker than anyone expected. The broke Inland Empire city joined Stockton and Mammoth Lakes in a minor bankruptcy boom in California and set the stage for the municipal bond market's worst nightmare: a long-anticipated wave of defaults in the Golden State. Could that scary event come to pass in 2013?

A sign announcing Facebook IPO is flashe

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

It was supposed to be the initial public offering of the century, enriching Facebook employees and investors and reviving a moribund IPO market for high-tech startups. But Facebook flopped in first-day trading and kept on falling in subsequent days. Facebook's lead banker, Morgan Stanley, was blamed for botching the offering. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went on the defensive. And by year end, Facebook still hadn't recovered it $100 billion valuation. But it topped 1 billion active users before the ball dropped in Times Square to ring on 2013. Will 2013 be the year it bounces back?


This is one in a series of year-end stories that look back at the most memorable pieces KPCC reporters worked on in 2012 and look ahead at a key issue that will be the focus of coverage in the coming year.

How much happened in the Golden State in 2012 when it comes to business? Lots. Lots and lots. The DeBord Report covered most of it. 

The slide show above serves up the business year in pictures for the state with the largest economy and two of America's most storied industries: Hollywood and high-tech.

And if you want to review the business year in links to the original posts...well, I've got that covered, too.

10. Apple introduces the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini — the first all-new gadgets rolled out by Cupertino since the death of Steve Jobs

9. The long, long, LONG Tribune Co. bankruptcy comes to and end. So who will buy the Los Angeles Times?

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Solar City IPO raises $92 million but doesn't deliver Chairman Elon Musk a great year

Tesla Worldwide Debut of Model X

Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for Tesla

Elon Musk speaks onstage in Los Angeles. A $1 billion valuation for Solar City after its IPO would have been the perfect way to top off a great year.

Elon Musk almost had a truly great year. The CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX saw Tesla's Model S sedan named Motor Trend's Car of the Year and the Dragon capsule successfully rendezvous with the International Space Station and splash down in the Pacific twice.

And I named the visionary entrepreneur the DeBord Report 2012 L.A. Businessperson of the Year!

Musk is also Chairman of Solar City, the San Mateo-based solar panel installation and leasing startup. Solar City staged an initial public offering Thursday. That should have been icing on Musk's 2012 cake (the company is run by two of his cousins, while he's one of the main investors). But it didn't entirely turn out that way.

The IPO wasn’t a disaster for Musk. Solar City raised $92 million in its Wall Street debut and now has a market cap of nearly $600 million. But the offering was priced lower than initially planned: $8 a share, rather than the $13 to $15 that had been announced in the lead up to the IPO. The higher price would have valued the company at a cool billion.

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DeBord Report LA Businessperson of the Year Award goes to...Elon Musk!

elon musk

Photo Credit: SpaceX

Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO is the DeBord Report's 2012 L.A. Businessperson of the Year!

On Tuesday, I announced that today (Thursday) the DeBord Report would be naming its 2012 L.A. Businessperson of the Year. To bring readers into the discussion, we also launched a poll, so that you good folks  could vote for the two candidates:

Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who bought the team for $430 million and sold it for...$2 billion!

Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who has created a market for high-end electric cars, opened the era of private space flight, and has declared his intention to retire on Mars.

First the results of the voting: It's Musk by a landslide: 91 percent versus only about 8 percent for McCourt. BUT that's still 8 percent for McCourt! So maybe he isn't as widely loathed as some thought.

One percent chose, as far as I can tell, Mickey Mouse. Someone always has to vote for Mickey Mouse...

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Poll: Who should be LA Businessperson of the Year, Frank McCourt or Elon Musk?

LAPD Takes Over Security At Dodgers Games After Attack On Giants Fan

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt speaks at a news conference at Dodger Stadium. He bought the team for $430 million and sold it for $2 billion, with a side deal for the parking lots. Is he the greatest businessman L.A. has ever seen?

Tesla Worldwide Debut of Model X

Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for Tesla

Elon Musk has had quite a year. Tesla won Motor Trend's Car of the Year with its all-electric Model S. SpaceX went to International Space Station an kicked off the era of commercial space flight. And then there's the forthcoming Solar City IPO. Is he L.A.'s Businessman of the Year?


It's the time of year for year-end lists and … contests! Not to mention awards. For 2012, the DeBord Report will be conducting a simple contest to name L.A.'s Businessperson of the Year.

You can vote on the entrants in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments, but I'll be making the final call. And so, without further ado, here are the candidates for the DeBord Report's 2012 L.A. Business Person of the Year.

Frank McCourt

The businessman that, for the most part, Angelenos love to hate. The former Dodgers owner made his fortune in parking lots back in Boston before coming west and buying the Boys in Blue from Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp in 2004 for $430 million.

In 2009, the long saga of Frank's divorce from wife Jamie and his subsequent battle with Major League Baseball began. By 2011, McCourt had put the team, then valued at around $750 million, into bankruptcy.

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