This is about as far from your typical TechCrunch-covered startup as you can get. It’s not a quirky new online business model or social application that may or may not take off. They’re building real satellites and they’re getting ready to launch them into space.
Why do we like Skybox so much?
Because they’re building a desperately needed imaging platform for a new generation of business and other applications. To put a satellite into space costs hundreds of millions of dollars today. And just one satellite in a network isn’t all that interesting. GPS, for example, uses more than 30 satellites.
To create a useful network of imaging satellites for near real time applications you need dozens of satellites in orbit and sharing information. That’s cost prohibitive for all but the most powerful world governments.
Unless you find a way to get an orders of magnitude decrease in cost.
If a company was able to do that, and put a satellite into space at a small fraction of the current cost, they’d likely be able to lock down a number of high profile customers for a variety of previously cost-prohibitive applications. Confidentiality agreements and U.S. export regulations might prohibit that company from disclosing much, or any, of that information.
But investors would obviously have access to that information. You can draw your own conclusions as to why the company is hiring big data engineers in droves, and why Canaan Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and CrunchFund might want to put some $90+ million into that startup.