A “space startups” list with problems in more ways than one

Making the rounds on Twitter yesterday was an article titled “Top 10 Startups who are the most promising participants in the “Space-Race” today”. The list, which doesn’t carry a byline and is published by a site called “Startups FM” (“a whole new community where startups will be helping startups”), goes through ten companies it believes are “some of the awesome startups who are the most active athletes in this new ‘space-race’ today.”

Many of the companies on the list are predictable: SpaceX, Blue Origin, Planetary Resources, and Skybox Imaging, among others. There are a few puzzling inclusions and omissions, though. The list includes Orbital Sciences, a company that doesn’t really qualify as a startup, having started 31 years ago and is publicly traded on the NYSE. It also includes Kymeta, a lesser-known company (albeit one that has raised $50 million recently) that is working on antenna technology for satellite communications. And, while the list includes Blue Origin and Masten Space Systems, it excludes Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace.

The list has a more fundamental problem, though: it appears to be plagiarized. The list was published Wednesday (based on the structure of the URL; the article itself doesn’t include a date), four days after Business Insider published “10 Awesome Startups That Are Looking To Profit From A New Space Race”. The Business Insider features the same companies—in the same order!—as the later Startups FM article, although the description of each company is different. (Thanks to Jon Goff who pointed out the similarities between the two lists on Twitter yesterday afternoon.)

So, Startups FM can be blamed for copying someone else’s list, but Business Insider is responsible for the list of companies and any puzzling inclusions and exclusions. The author of the Business Insider article, Kyle Russell, is a student at UC Berkeley, which means it’s likely one of the “startups” he mentioned in his piece, Orbital Sciences, is older than him.

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