SpaceX, the Elon Musk backed company on Tuesday announced that it was acquiring the small-satellite data provider Swarm Technologies, with the former taking over the startup company’s 30 odd employees and 120 satellites.
This deal was supposedly done in the month of July, which, is quite rare for SpaceX, a company that is known for manufacturing its rocket and satellite hardware in-house or via contractors.
Swarm revealed the acquisition plans back in a filing with the FCC or Federal Communications Commission on August 6, wherein the company requested approval to shift the ownership of its satellite and antenna licenses to SpaceX.
Does SpaceX Acquiring Swarm Mean Something Bigger?
The merger agreement, as per the filing was signed on July 16, wherein Swarm is stated to become a direct and wholly-owned subsidiary of Elon Musk’s company.
This acquisition of Swarm is a rare move for SpaceX, as it shows the company’s intentions to delve deeper into the world of consumer electronics and now aims to reduce unprofitability with Starlink, with the main intention probably being to turn this network into a potential moneymaker to somehow fund the Starship launch system.
It is unclear as to whether there is any specific opportunity that the Elon Musk backed company sees in Swarm to benefit from its rather new broadband network. Both Swarm and SpaceX were approached by the Verge but refused to comment.
This acquisition should allow the combined companies to provide innovative satellite services that can reach users in unserved and underserved regions of the world, stated Swarm in the FCC filing. It added that SpaceX would benefit in a similar fashion from access to the intellectual property held by the startup as well as Swarm’s SpaceBee satellites.
For those of you wondering, Swarm, which was founded back in 2016 aims to offer ultra low-bandwidth data via its small SpaceBee satellites that can talk to smaller antennas present on the ground, dubbed Tiles. Out of the 150 planned satellites, around 120 are already in orbit, with the Tiles having the option to be installed as small chips inside.
With GPS, devices that have Tile installed can easily be tracked, relay sensor data or do the intended work of the consumer via tiny pings of bandwidth to Swarm’s network for just $5 a month.
This development is a rather important one since previous reports have claimed that Starlink could be finally available on a consumer level in 2022, so these small steps might indicate the company’s ongoing preparations.