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Spencer Rascoff
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff reflects on his investment strategy. (GeekWire Photo)

Zillow Group has just reported an eye-popping $1 billion in annual revenue — but the Seattle-based real estate data company’s CEO, Spencer Rascoff, has another milestone to celebrate.

One of the private ventures that he invests in, California-based SpaceX, pulled off a successful maiden launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday. The test launch put a Tesla Roadster into deep space, and put the Falcon Heavy into the record books as the world’s most powerful rocket in operation.

“Awesome to see the private sector step in to fill the void in space exploration left by our government,” Rascoff said in a tweet. (In fairness, we should note that NASA’s Space Launch System is due to surpass the Falcon Heavy on the power scale when it launches for the first time in 2019 or 2020.)

In a follow-up email exchange, Rascoff told GeekWire that he invested in SpaceX in a private funding round last year. (The total raised during last year’s Series H round amounted to nearly $450 million.)

Rascoff declined to go into further detail about the investment, which is typical in such situations. However, he provided additional insight about the kinds of companies he invests in, and why.

In addition to SpaceX, Rascoff said his portfolio currently includes Fair Financial, All Voices, Mod Pizza, Turnkey, Chairish, Accolade, Pro.com, uBeam, ButterflyMX, Remitly, Virta Health, Domicile, Liftopia, Airbnb and Glassdoor. His exits include Julep, Room77, Dwellable, Vhoto and Pointshound.

Rascoff listed three common themes in his investments:

“Founders I’ve worked with before or know personally (Glassdoor, Turnkey, Pro, Domicile, Mod, Chairish, Accolade).

“Categories I know well or am passionate about (All Voices, Turnkey, Domicile, Liftopia).

“PacNW companies – in general, I think PacNW is underfunded, so I hypothesize that an angel investor should be able to get better returns in Seattle, and I am advantaged by my network here. Also, I am an LP [limited partnership] investor in a lot of venture funds which helps with deal flow back-and-forth (i.e., me to them, them to me).”

SpaceX has been privately held since it was founded more than 15 years ago, and it’s likely to be that way for a while longer. Although rumors of an initial public offering surface occasionally, billionaire founder and CEO Elon Musk has said he’d prefer not to go for an IPO until after SpaceX begins passenger flights to Mars.

The company has reportedly gone back and forth on profitability, but its stock is likely to be on the rise in the wake of this week’s successful and widely reported Falcon Heavy launch.

If so, that’s one more reason for Rascoff, Musk and SpaceX’s other private investors to smile about their stake in a venture that’s currently valued at as much as $21.5 billion and could go much higher.

Update for 7:40 p.m. PT Feb. 8: In a follow-up email, Rascoff said he wasn’t able to attend the launch in person. “I wish I had been there to see it,” he said. “Yes, I watched it online. So exciting.”

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