Steve Wozniak’s space firm, Privateer, buys Orbital Insight, raises $56.5 million

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak's space data startup, Privateer, has raised $56.5 million and also acquired the analytics firm Orbital Insight, a merger that will add mapping and intelligence services to Privateer's space data offerings, Privateer's CEO told Reuters.

Privateer, founded in 2021 to help satellite operators navigate in Earth’s increasingly crowded orbit, closed its Series A funding round in April, led by space-focused venture capital firm Aero X Ventures with other investors including Luxe Capital, Boca, Starburst, and the Winklevoss twins. The news is expected to be announced later on Monday.

Orbital’s TerraScope Earth observation platform, designed to be a vast search engine based on recently captured satellite imagery from other companies, will combine with Privateer’s satellite-tracking software.

The new funding allowed Privateer to close a deal to buy Palo Alto-based Orbital Insight on April 14, Privateer’s CEO, Alex Fielding, said. Orbital, which fuses various sources of data such as cell phone location and satellite imagery as its intelligence offerings to customers, had been backed by Sequoia and Google Ventures.

Fielding declined to disclose the value of the combined entity or the price of Orbital Insight.

Privateer’s acquisition will expand its offerings after revenue prospects in the space situational awareness (SSA) market were limited, Fielding said. SSA is a nascent corner of the space industry akin to air traffic control, but for satellites in space. Such services are deemed crucial for satellite navigation given there are no international norms to control a soaring amount of space traffic.

“It’s not really a market, it’s actually a bunch of companies that have been providing a stopgap for the fact that the government hasn’t provided a service for space traffic management,” Fielding said in an interview last week.

Privateer is offering its SSA services to satellite imagery companies to help them task targets on Earth and maneuver their satellites around space junk in exchange for the hordes of satellite imagery ordered by their customers that could make for a near real-time mapping and intelligence service.

That imagery will funnel into a new platform that Fielding expects to release publicly in the next six months or so.

“You take the image once, you should be able to sell it a million times, for a fraction of the acquisition price,” Fielding said, referring to the satellite imagery companies with whom Privateer is working to integrate their data. 

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