Former top SpaceX exec Tom Ochinero sets up new VC firm, filings reveal

Former senior SpaceX executive Tom Ochinero is teaming up with SpaceX alum-turned-VC Achal Upadhyaya and one of Sequoia’s top finance leaders, Spencer Hemphill, on a new venture called Interlagos Capital, TechCrunch has learned.

There is little public information available about Interlagos, and the trio did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for comment. The company was formally incorporated in the state of Delaware on March 7, and it was registered as an out-of-state company with California only days ago, on April 11. Ochinero, Upadhyaya and Hemphill are all listed on the documents. The principal address is in El Segundo, California.

A trademark application for “Interlagos” was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on April 4. That application lists an address identical to the one found on the company’s business registration. The application states that the company will deal in “venture capital services; venture capital funding services, namely, providing financing to emerging and start-up businesses.”

Ochinero departed from SpaceX in February after a nearly 10-year stint at the company, where he eventually became senior vice president of commercial business. In that role, he helped SpaceX grow into the undisputed global lead in commercial launch. People familiar with the matter told CNBC at the time that Ochinero was resigning “to attend to a family medical matter.”

With Interlagos, he is teaming up with another SpaceX alum — Upadhyaya — who spent a decade in engineering roles at SpaceX before joining the investment firm Cantos as a venture partner in 2022. He left sometime this year, according to his LinkedIn. At Cantos, Upadhyaya’s bets included satellite bus manufacturer Apex Space and motion control system developer Salient Motion, both startups headed by ex-SpaceX founders.

Spencer Hemphill, a finance executive, is rounding out the team. He’s coming from Sequoia, where he also spent 10 years. He departed sometime this year, leaving the firm as assistant controller.

Ochinero is just the latest SpaceX executive to move from the behemoth space company into venture investing. People leaving SpaceX to found other businesses or invest in them is popular enough that there’s a website dedicated to connecting the two groups. Other notable investors in the SpaceX-to-VC pipeline include Founders Fund’s Scott Nolan, who was a very early SpaceX employee, and Alpine Space Ventures’ Bulent Altan.