Google is purchasing satellite startup Skybox Imaging for $500 million in cash. Founded in 2009, Skybox designs lightweight, affordable satellites that record photos and video of Earth. Skybox employees will initially work with Google’s Maps unit. While Google says it is purchasing Skybox for its imaging capabilities, the search giant is also trying to provide the planet with fast Internet access via balloons, drones and satellites. The acquisition may be part of these larger efforts.
“The goal is to get everyone in the world online, which would likely increase the number of Google searches and boost the company’s advertising revenue, as well as usage of services such as Gmail and Maps,” suggests The Wall Street Journal.
“People want connectivity everywhere and images from everywhere in the world and you just can’t do that as easily from the ground,” said Tim Farrar, president of satellite research firm TMF Associates. “Satellites will help Google reach remote mountains and dense jungles more easily, filling in the places where you can’t justify building terrestrial networks.”
“Skybox’s mission is about more than just imaging,” said David Cowan, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “Skybox is disrupting how satellites are deployed in space and that has implications for the types of global communication challenges that Google plans to address.”