In a statement issued yesterday, Google said has picked up Skybox Imaging for $500 million.
“Skybox and Google share more than just a zip code,” says the Skybox team. “We both believe in making information, especially accurate geospatial information, accessible and useful. And to do this we’re both willing to tackle problems head on–whether it’s building cars that drive themselves or designing our own satellites from scratch.”
Google said the satellites owned by Skybox Imaging will keep Google Maps in shape with up-to-date imagery, a service Google bought from outside source DigitalGlobe before the acquisition. In process of building an orbit radius of 15 satellites–including the sequel launch to the company’s first satellite SkySat1 with SkySat 2 later this month, and the first propulsive SkySat 3 in late 2014–Skybox feels that it was high time for bigger and better things.
Google expects great things from the purchase, saying they want Skybox to “help improve internet access and disaster relief, the areas Google has long been interested in.” Six more satellites are expected to launch in 2015 with collaboration from Orbital Sciences and SSL, contracted to build 13 additional spacecrafts.
“Revenues from Google, we believe, is about 3 percent of current revenues and much less when WorldView 3 launches and achieves operational capability,” writes Jim McIlree, financial research analyst, prior to Skybox’s acquisition. “When WorldView 3 is launched much of its capacity will be devoted to the U.S. Government, but imagery from the company’s older satellites could become available to compete more effectively against the lower resolution offerings of Skybox, Planet Labs and Urthecast.”
Skybox will operate under their own fire as the acquisition awaits finalized regulatory approvals and conditions before closing.