• Fraser Harper

Looking for the golden threads: Don’t just focus on products

The business of information: looking for the golden threads?

This post follows on from our main post here.

Barrier 2: Focusing too much on products only

The Data Value Chain[1] runs from generation, through collection and analytics through to exchange, and so businesses. If we use the satellite data market which is a part of the downstream value chain of the satellite industry populated by many thousands of business[2], we can illustrate the point around businesses covering parts of the data value chain.

Taking just five companies operating in the downstream market of the satellite value chain (see Table 1) it is interesting to note that we have two which are also upstream businesses too: Planet with 351 satellites and Satellogic with 90. In both cases, these businesses have moved down the data value chain. We also see a high use of partners to leverage mass usage of their data and data products e.g. ESRI is a partner of both Orbital Insights and Planet. ESRI has around 350,000 current users. One notable exception on the list is MapBox whose data finds its way to around 600 million users on a monthly basis.Table 1: Satellite Geospatial Data CompaniesCompanyYear EstablishedNumber of EmployeesInvestment

($ million)Revenues

($ million)Product & Service

OfferMapBox2010500227.1100Platform + ProductsOrbital Insights2013106128.720AnalyticsPlanet2010480354.559.8Data + Platform + ProductsDescartes Labs201411558.420PlatformSatellogic20101807715.5Data + Data services + Analytics

Sources: Crunchbase, TechCrunch, LinkedIn, Space News and company websites.

While the five businesses listed in Table 1 are relatively recently established, they have all focused on one area of the data value chain, and then moved into adjacent areas as they have built market presence and revenues. Planet has been the most active in terms of acquisitions, and has bought three business: two to extend its constellation coverage (Terra Bella with its SkySat constellation in 2017, and Blackbridge for its Rapid Eye Earth satellites in 2015) and one to greatly enhance the ease of access and use of its satellite data (Boundless Spatial, the geospatial software specialists, in 2018 – not doubt the $36mn contract awarded by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency was also of interest too!)[3].

We also see how these five businesses have moved from core to adjacent markets (Descartes Lab now operate in 60 application areas) and operated a low cost of use often through a free-to-use for basic level data and functionality. They have all focused on the widespread application of their data rather than become a leader in a single sector as you see in the geosciences[4].

Our overall point is that no business seeks to stay still on the data value chain as these businesses show they have strengthened their position in parts of the chain, and moved into other parts of it to access and secure customers and revenues.

End notes

[1] The Data Value Chain. Report by AT Kearney for the GSMA. June 2018

[2] Satellite Value Chain: Snapshot 2017. Report by Euroconsult. 2017

[3] MapBox has also made direct acquisitions e.g. Mapdata on 2017 and the core team behind Valhalla in 2018

[4] Earth Science Analytics focuses on supplying the oil and gas industry and could be regarded as a very data-rich consultancy

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