Martine Rothblatt Founder, Sirius Satellite Radio, United Therapeutics

  • Touring a NASA tracking station was life-changing: It was like stepping into another reality. Everything was clean, shiny, and high tech. I asked the NASA engineer that was giving us the tour why the antenna was so humongous. It was bigger than a house. He said it was because the signals that they were tracking from deep space were so faint. I asked him what if the satellite signals were very strong and powerful? He said that’s not possible yet. If it was possible the receiving station could be small.

  • That is when the idea popped into my head for Sirius: It was a quasi-religious epiphany. If I could figure out a way to launch a powerful satellite, then everyone in the world could have their own tiny satellite receiving dish. I was going to connect the world with satellite communications.

  • What inspired you: My transformative examples were biographies and science fiction. Examples of people who transcended their background inspired me.

  • Did you ever think you were special compared to your peers? No. I thought I was an average person. I was lazy. I usually tried to figure out the way to get something done with the least amount of work. 

  • My vision for Sirius was paid radio: At the time the whole paradigm for regular radio was advertiser supported radio. It was an entire paradigm shift that had to be promoted.

  • More people come up and thank me for providing content to them via Sirius than anything else I’ve done: I think this says information is very, very important. Information is the necessary, if not sufficient basis for development.

  • My first love is space technology: But I had to start a pharmaceutical company because my daughter was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. There were no medicines available. I just went to the library and started doing research. 

  • I cold-called a person who was developing a drug for pulmonary hypertension:The company he worked for wouldn’t let him develop it because they thought it wouldn’t make money. United Therapeutics developed the drug and got FDA approval.

  • United Therapeutics is a public company. Their annual reports are different:One of them was in the form of a graphic novel. Another was in the form of a children’s book [patterned after Good Night Moon]. We make an annual report because that is required by law. There is no rule that says your annual report can’t be a children’s book.

  • United Therapeutics is branching out into Xenotransplantation: That is the transplantation of living cells, tissues, or organs from one species to another.

  • Martine’s latest book: Virtually Human: The Promise―and the Peril―of Digital Immortality.

  • Upon death Martine’s body will be frozen: Martine’s digital self will be turned into a mind clone. 

  • A mind clone is a software version of your mind: It takes all of the digital reflections that you’ve uploaded to the cloud... Facebook posts, likes, photos, etc and recreates a version of you. Your friends and family could access your mind clone on any device.

  • I think the earth is the greatest spaceship in the universe: We can see almost all the different stars in our own galaxy. As we travel around the Sun we get a different perspective of the entire sky. Meanwhile, we are perfectly comfortable. We can breathe the air. We can jump, fly, and swim. So I treasure, above everything else, spaceship Earth.

  • Full podcast here.