According to the latest news, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is acquiring the small satellite data provider Swarm Technologies. Swarm Technologies is a startup with roughly 30 employees and a network of 120 tiny satellites. This acquisition deal is extremely rare for SpaceX because in general, it manufactures its rocket and satellite hardware in-house or hires subcontractors.
Swarm revealed the acquisition plans last week. With this merger agreement, Swarm will become a direct and wholly-owned subsidiary of SpaceX.
As of now, it is not clear what specific opportunity SpaceX sees in Swarm. Swarm wrote on FCC filing, that the acquisition will strengthen “the combined companies’ ability to provide innovative satellite services that reach unserved and underserved parts of the world. SpaceX will similarly benefit from access to the intellectual property and expertise developed by the Swarm team, as well as from adding this resourceful and effective team to SpaceX.”
Swarm was founded in 2016. It offers ultra low bandwidth data services using its tiny sandwich-sized SpaceBEE satellites that communicate with smaller consumer antennas on the ground called “Tiles”. The company planned for 150 satellites and out of it, it already has as many as 120 satellites in the orbit.
SpaceX’s Starlink program aims to beam broadband internet into rural areas that lack fibre or physical internet connections. As of now, it already has more than 1,700 of its initial tranche of 4,409 satellites in low Earth orbit with nearly 100,000 beta users. Most users subscribed to SpaceX services at the cost of $499 for a terminal kit and $99 a month for internet. It is far ahead of competitors like the UK backed OneWeb that launched 254 satellites and Amazon’s Kuiper network that is yet to launch any satellites.
Meta: SpaceX acquires Swarm Technologies.