Planet Labs Announces $95 Million Investment

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WASHINGTON — Planet Labs, the Earth-imaging firm that has built and deployed scores of tiny remote-sensing satellites during the past two years, announced a $95 million investment round Jan. 20 that brings the total raised to more than $160 million.

A Planet Labs official told SpaceNews the new funds will be used to “expand operations, develop sales and marketing, and grow product and application offerings.”

San Francisco-based Planet Labs said it achieved a “first closing” of a Series C financing round valued at $70 million led by Data Collective, a venture capital fund also based in San Francisco. Previous investors in Planet Labs contributed to the financing round as well. Planet Labs also announced a $25 million debt facility from Western Technology Investment, a Portola Valley, California, firm that provides debt and equity capital to technology companies.

Data Collective, which invests in so-called “big data” companies that handle and analyze large volumes of data, said its investment in Planet Labs is the first for a new fund it has for “truly exceptional growth-stage companies” in its portfolio.

“The Planet Labs team has driven their company from a brilliant idea in a garage to one of the world’s top ten overall space powers in less than three years, with customers, revenue, and technological advantage commensurate with that position,” Matt Ocko, co-managing partner of Data Collective, said in a statement announcing the investment.

Planet Labs has launched 73 satellites to date based on the 3U CubeSat form factor, about 30 centimeters in length and weighing only a few kilograms. Most of its satellites have been deployed from the International Space Station into short-lived orbits to test technology for later systems.

The Planet Labs management team, as well as company board member Steve Jurvetson. Credit: Steve Jurvetson
The Planet Labs management team, as well as company board member Steve Jurvetson (third from the right). Credit: Steve Jurvetson

That satellite total includes two spacecraft included on the latest cargo mission to the ISS, launched by SpaceX Jan. 10. Planet Labs built those satellites in nine days after 26 other Planet Labs satellites were lost in the Oct. 28 launch failure of an Orbital Sciences Corp. Cygnus cargo mission to the station.

Planet Labs plans to ultimately deploy a constellation of satellites to provide imagery of the entire planet every day. It has announced several partnerships with geospatial information companies to make use of imagery from its satellites for various applications.

The company raised $52 million in a Series B financing round in December 2013 and $13.1 million in an initial financing round in June 2013 led by venture capital fund Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Steve Jurvetson, partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and a Planet Labs board member, congratulated the company on its latest financing round. “Planet Labs is on its way to becoming the next great commercial space company,” he said in a statement.