Jared Isaacman: The internet entrepreneur who bought a flight to space

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Jared Isaacman, third in the picture, with the rest of his Inspiration4 crew  (JOHN KRAUS/COURTESY OF NETFLIX)
Jared Isaacman, third in the picture, with the rest of his Inspiration4 crew (JOHN KRAUS/COURTESY OF NETFLIX)

Jared Isaacman’s journey to space began in his basement.

Today, he is the chief executive of Shift4 Payments, an internet company which offers financial solutions to other firms, but it was begun underneath his parents house in 1999, when he was 16. Now it has more than 1,200 employees and made Mr Isaacman a billionaire.

It is those billions that have taken Mr Isaacman from business-focused entrepeneur to something of a household name, through his chartering of the private SpaceX flight. Because it is some part of those billions – it is not clear exactly how much Mr Isaacman was charged by Elon Musk’s company, but it is thought to be very substantial – that allowed him to buy the holiday of a lifetime, into orbit.

It is not public exactly how much Mr Isaacman is worth personally, but it is significant. He owns 38 per cent of Shift4 – which is publicly traded and worth $6.5 billion – and Forbes estimates his net worth to be around $2.4 billion.

Inspiration4 is not Mr Isaacman’s first flight. He has extensive experience flying jets – he can pilot both commercial and military and has a number of world records including for around the world flights.

He has spent that money on geting other people to fly, too: he is the founder of Draken International, the world’s largest private air force. It has a vast fleet of military jets that are used to train pilots for the US Air Force.

In recognition of his flight experience, Mr Isaacman has made himself “Commander” of the mission, in line with the other roles – such as Medical Officer – that have been given to the rest of the four-strong crew. Despite that title, he will not actually need to fly the craft: the SpaceX Dragon Capsule that will carry them around space is autonomous.

As with the rest of the crew, Mr Isaacman has given himself a virtue that he will embody. He is “Leadership”, with the others representing “Hope”, “Generosity” and “Prosperity”.

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