Geospatial analytics startup Orbital Insight raises $50M


Geospatial analytics startup Orbital Insight Inc. today said it has raised $50 million in a later-stage round led by Sequoia Capital.

Founded in 2015 by former Google Inc. Executive James Crawford, Orbital Insight offers a big-data platform that delivers large-scale analysis of satellite and unmanned aerial vehicle imagery. The company, in partnership with satellite operators including Airbus, DigitalGlobe, ImageSat, MDA, Planet and Urthecast, obtains satellite imagery then applies machine learning and computer vision to the images to count, measure and identified objects within them.

The goal is to deliver insights about what is occurring at a given location. Examples include the discovery of oil in China, a partnership with the World Bank to gauge poverty in given areas and analysis of parking lot traffic patterns for a major retailer.

“We are on the precipice of having daily five-meter imagery of the world, and then daily one-meter imagery within a few years,” Crawford said in a statement. “Until very recently, the standard was weekly 15-meter imagery, with one-meter imagery available much less frequently. We’ve only just begun to uncover a handful of signals, but we’ve already seen the impact they can have on financial, energy and insurance markets, as well as society as a whole.”

Although Orbital Insight does not disclose how much revenue it is making, the company has seemingly found strong demand for its service and claims to count leading financial services firms, Global 500 companies, several U.S. government agencies and global non-profit organizations as its clients. While the company analyzes images from satellite service providers, that global satellite imagery market is expected to grow to $6.42 billion by 2023.

Including the new round, Orbital Insight has raised $78.7 million to date with its last round of $20 million having been raised in June 2016. The new round also included investment from Envision Ventures, Balyasny Asset Management, Geodesic Capital, ITOCHU Corporation as well as previous investors Intellectus Partners. Previous investors GV, Lux Capital and CME Ventures.

The company said it would use the new funding to expand its portfolio of analytic products and to grow its global strategic partnerships and sales presence in key international markets.

Image: Orbital Insight