Palo Alto-Based Satellite Network Company Swarm Raises $25 Million

By Amit Chowdhry ● January 30, 2019

Swarm Technologies, a Palo Alto, California-based low-cost global communications network, has raised $25 million in Series A funding. This round of funding was led by Craft Ventures and Sky Dayton (founder of EarthLink and Boingo). Social Capital, 4DX Ventures, and NJF Capital also participated in this round.

With this funding round, Swarm will accelerate software and hardware integrations for customer deployments. And the company will continue hiring talent and deploy a constellation of 150 satellites over the next 18 months.

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Swarm is known for developing the world’s smallest two-way communications satellites to enable low-cost, space-based, and IoT connectivity anywhere in the world.

“We set out to solve the decades-old problem of expensive connectivity that is not universally accessible: billions of people around the world still lack basic Internet access,” said Swarm co-founder and CEO Sara Spangelo in a statement. “With 75 billion connected devices coming online around the world over the next six years, viable and affordable network access will be essential. For this reason, our technology has caught the attention of dozens of companies—from early-stage startups to Fortune 100 enterprises—with whom we have completed successful pilot tests in agriculture, maritime, ground transportation, and text messaging services.”

This technology is essential for agriculture, maritime, energy, and ground transportation industries. And it also benefits global aid organizations. And Swarm’s affordability, flexibility, and easy setup also change the fundamentals for businesses that rely on data transmission to and from remote locations.

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Some examples of how Swarm’s technology was used to make IoT data widely available on a global scale include diagnostics and emergency messages from connected vehicles, agriculture sensors in farmlands outside of cellular range, shipping containers across oceans, water monitoring devices in remote communities, smart meter reporting in remote locations, and connecting people through text messaging in remote areas.

“Swarm is turning the satellite industry on its head,” added Dayton. “Others continue to focus on high bandwidth networks that are very expensive, power-hungry, difficult to integrate, and will take years and billions of dollars to bring online. Swarm has developed something entirely new: a low-bandwidth, latency-tolerant network that is extremely inexpensive, low-power and very easy to integrate for things that need to be connected anywhere in the world—and Swarm is doing it in a tenth the time of a traditional satellite network build.”

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Swarm co-founder and CTO Benjamin Longmier said that the company launched three new satellites into Low Earth Orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on December 3. The three satellites went through an initial check out phase and were commissioned into the experimental phase of the mission, testing new network protocols, and new communications technology.

David O. Sacks, the co-founder and general partner of Craft Ventures, pointed out that Swarm is a major enabler in the next big wave in computing. “The mobile phone is just the first of countless devices to become internet connected. The ability to connect any device easily and cheaply, anywhere in the world, without needing to be in range of a WiFi hotspot, is transformational. We’re excited to be supporting the brilliant Swarm team in this mission,” Sacks explained.

And NJF Capital founder Nicole Junkermann emphasized that Swarm is “bringing something truly transformative to the global satellite industry, enabling low-cost access to the internet across each and every continent.”

Spangelo is a former NASA engineer from Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Longmier is a former University of Michigan professor in aerospace engineering and postdoctoral fellow at NASA Johnson Space Center. Including this round, Swarm has raised over $28 million from technology investors so far.