One of my favorite things about incentive prizes is the way that they bring talented individuals together and provide a spirit of camaraderie that complements the sense of competition. Since I joined the X PRIZE Foundation four years ago (I can't believe I just passed that anniversary!), I've been pleased to see entreprenuers from different teams come together time and time again to share ideas, tips, and suggestions, even as they each tried to show that their own entry was the best. This collaborative spirit has without question had a "rising tide" effect, floating the metaphorical boats of all of the teams and of the industry in general by leading to more, better, and faster results.
With the friendly way that so many of our teams work with each other, it was only a matter of time until we began to see some real cross-fertilization, with teams merging or hiring each other. We've seen some examples within individual prizes already: for example, Google Lunar X PRIZE team Synergy Moon is a product of a merger between two formerly independent entries, and Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge team Masten Space Systems hired fellow competitor Paragon to build tanks for their rockets.
Now, we've got another example to add to the list. Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge team TrueZer0 just announced that team co-founder and co-leader Scott Zeeb has been offered and has accepted a job at Scaled Composites, the technical team that built SpaceShipOne, the winner of the Ansari X PRIZE. Todd Squires, the other co-founder and co-leader of TrueZer0, writes
[Recently,] we made a small detour to visit to Scaled Composites. I've been a fan of Burt Rutan for some time, and Brooke Owens [a former X PRIZE employee now working with the FAA, helped] us set up a visit. That was an awesome experience. The people at Scaled are every bit as bright and motivated as we expected. They're working on some amazing stuff and were impressively humble, considering what they've achieved. I'd personally like to thank Matt and Ben for taking the time to show us around, and everyone at Scaled for being so open and friendly.
At the end of our visit we got to sit and chat with Burt for quite a long time. How cool was that? After speaking with him, it's easy to see why he's been so successful. He really loves what he's doing. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and his no-nonsense get-out-and-do-it approach to life is obvious.
During our talk, Burt asked if we'd like to move out to Mojave, and work for Scaled. I'm pretty settled in Illinois, and enjoy working as an independent contractor. As undeniably cool as the work would be, tearing up my life and moving to Mojave is not the right choice for me currently. Scott on the other hand, was a little more open to the idea. Recently, he went back for a full-on job interview. Scaled made him an offer, and just a few days ago, he accepted. He'll be moving out there shortly, and starting in early August.
Todd's whole post is worth reading, as it provides some more context.
While we're definitely sad that this move might end up slowing down the incredible progress TrueZer0 is making, we're absolutely thrilled to see Scott end up at Scaled. It's sure to be a good fit, and the world always benefits from having bright folks like Scott dedicate themselves full time to the pursuit of commercial spaceflight.
So, please join us in wishing a hearty congratulations and good luck to Scott, Scaled Composites, and the rest of team TrueZer0!