Spire Secures $40 Million In Series B Funding To Secure 100 CubeSat Constellation

One of the fastest growing NewSpace companies over the last year is Spire Global Inc., the San Francisco based startup which will soon be deploying a fleet of cubesats in Low Earth Orbit. Designed to offer both maritime Automatic Identification Services as well as more accurate weather forecasts through radio occultation of GPS signals, the constellation was originally described as numbering 20 3U satellites deployed in roughly a 500 Km orbit. Now, with the announcement of Series B funding of $40 million, Spire will be able to increase the size of the constellation to approximately 100 cubesats.

Innerspace spoke with Spire Head of Business Operations Chris Wake to learn a little more about the latest company planning to make big waves with very small spacecraft. One of the key questions was how Spire’s business plan meshes with what is an undeniably chaotic governmental weather satellite program. From Wake’s point of view, Spire isn’t seeking to supplant national weather satellites, which are much larger and heavily instrumented, but instead “to provide something additive to the bread and butter piece which comprises the baseline.”

So just what is it Spire can add? Basically, with a larger fleet of cubesats, it comes down to rapid re-visit times over any given site, offering localized information that can be updated every 30 minutes. In fact said Wake, in speaking to potential customers they have yet to find the point of diminishing returns in adding more satellites to the planned fleet. Part of that is due to the fact that cubesat capabilities are advancing so quickly, and being driven by so many different players, that in targeting an effective life cycle of two years per craft, the potential for regular improvement in capability and market potential is baked into the formula.

Spire’s initial progress, going from a standing start to fielding operational spacecraft in 12 months, has been a critical factor in allowing the company to raise the capital it needs to fund the full fleet. When asked about the challenge of securing the most recent round of funding, Wake observed that the investment team was able to recognize the value of in what the company had already built. In this case it was more than just the first four demonstrator satellites which were already in orbit and the next 20 which will see launch in a matter of months. That recognition also likely included a strong governmental outreach, underscored by the recent hiring of industry veteran Antoine de Chassy, former President and CEO of Astrium Geo-Information to head up the company’s efforts in the all too critical orbit of the D.C. beltway. The business plan is not dependent on Washington however, Spire is following a global sales strategy which has seen the company open offices in Singapore, and most recently, Scotland.

Finally, there is the “fun” factor. Every employee gets to name their own satellite, and even receives a duplicate copy to place on the shelf at home. How’s that for motivation?

The full press release is below:

Spire Adds $40M in Series B to Deploy World’s First Network of Commercial Weather Satellites

Data company on schedule to provide high fidelity weather and maritime intelligence this year, continuing its rapid growth with new funding from Promus Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Jump Capital, and a complement of past investors

San Francisco, Calif. — June 30, 2015 — Spire, a satellite-powered data company, today announced it closed a $40 million Series B round of funding led by Promus Ventures with participation from new investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Jump Capital, as well as existing investors RRE Ventures and Lemnos Labs, among others. To date, Spire has secured just over $80 million through three rounds of funding. With the new funds, the company will support further growth and expand its constellation from 20 satellites in 2015 to more than 100 by the end of 2017.

The latest round of financing comes at a time when the need for advancements in weather and maritime data is at an all-time high. With the potentially catastrophic 2016 Weather Gap right around the corner, Spire offers a solution to the $2.4 trillion dollar global problem. Emerging as a leader in the ‘Space Race 2.0’, Spire is the only commercial weather data provider with scheduled launches in 2015. The company will begin deploying its satellites on a near monthly basis beginning September 2015.

“With a highly entrepreneurial San Francisco team developing a true multi-sensor, nano-sat platform, Spire is the poster child of New Space,“ said BVP partner David Cowan, who recently served on the board of Skybox Imaging (acquired by Google).”Spire has advanced from startup to deployment faster than any space venture we’ve seen – at this rate it will quickly become the largest constellation known to Man.”

The company’s satellites employ advanced software defined radios to collect global remote sensing data with a focus on the three-quarters of the Earth that is covered by oceans or considered remote. The current generation of Spire satellites focus primarily on weather tracking, climate science, global supply chain monitoring, and broader maritime domain awareness. And with a resilient global infrastructure already in place, Spire will soon deliver five times the amount of weather data and four times more frequently updated maritime data than previously possible through other means.

“I continue to be massively impressed by the customer traction at Spire,” said Mike Collett, Founder and Managing Director of Promus Ventures, who will be joining the Board of Directors. “Peter and his team have developed a clear value proposition with their approach to high frequency remote sensing data and they are adding blue chip customers, both public and private, at a notable pace. Many of those same customers never before considered purchasing this type of data, precisely because they could not do anything without the frequency and reliability that Spire is bringing to the market.”

The implications of better data are immense, and range from saving lives to saving literally billions of dollars that businesses, governments and consumers lose due to unpredictable weather or maritime accidents each and every year. By the end of 2015, Spire will have 20 satellites in orbit and 20 ground stations across the globe providing customers with data from any point on Earth delivered every 30-minutes. From Alaska to Dubai, Spire’s global ground station network is the most advanced of its kind for LEO satellite communication and data distribution.

“The last 12 months have been full of fast deliberate growth for Spire where we’ve opened offices in Singapore and Glasgow amongst incredibly strong customer traction”, said Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire. “These funds reinforce our ability to sustain exceptional innovation and hire the world’s top talent.”

Note: This article has been updated to make several corrections:

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