Canaan, Norwest back Skybox Imaging’s microsatellites in $70m VC round


Venture capital firms Canaan Partners and Norwest Venture Partners have led a $70m Series C financing round for Skybox Imaging, a provider of satellite imagery, video, and big data analytics.

They joined existing investors Khosla Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners, bringing the total capital raised by the company to $91m.

Skybox said it would use the capital to complete development and launch of its first two high-resolution imaging microsatellites, SkySat-1 and SkySat-2. It will also use the funds to grow its team of software engineers and data scientists. SkySat-1 is slated to launch in fourth quarter of 2012 aboard an International Space Company (ISC) Kosmotras Dnepr rocket.

“We will also use this capital to expand strategic alliances, position Skybox for initial commercial operations, and to accelerate the development path towards the full constellation of microsatellites,” said Skybox CEO Tom Ingersoll. “Canaan Partners’ and Norwest Venture Partners’ commitment to the Skybox vision gets us one step closer to reaching all of these milestones.”

Current satellite systems sporadically capture still images of various regions of the earth. According to Ingersoll, Skybox constellation will enable much more frequent monitoring of an increased portion of the planet’s surface. It is also the first to offer high-definition video, as well as still imagery, and will utilise Hadoop to build a combined hardware and software chain capable of processing, extracting, and interpreting large amounts of pixel and derived data.

“Imaging satellites have the potential to deeply impact the day-to-day experiences of both businesses and consumers,” said Deepak Kamra, general partner, Canaan Partners, who will be joining the Skybox board. “Until now, only governments and militaries have been able to use the valuable data gained from analysing these images. With this analytic capability now becoming available and affordable to mainstream users, we can expect to see a dramatic and permanent shift in how business and consumers operate,” he added.

With $3.5bn under management and more than 85 acquisitions and 53 IPOs to date, Canaan has funded technology companies such as SuccessFactors, DoubleClick,, Acme Packet Active Network and SandForce. Current technology investments include Tremor Video, KABAM, Lending Club,, Zoosk and Blurb in the US; BharatMatrimony, LoyaltyRewardz, Naaptol and UnitedLex in India; and PrimeSense, LiveU and N-trig in Israel.

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