Spire Rockets: From Kickstarter to EU Funding in Five Years
It has been an unusual and impressive trajectory for Spire Global, a Lemnos portfolio company. The company has rocketed from a small team with an ambitious goal to a global leader in the weather and maritime intelligence market.
Earlier this month, Spire Global continued its ascent, announcing a new office in Luxembourg and $70 million in Series C funding, including funding from the Luxembourg Future Fund. In addition, the company brought on CFO Bryan LeBlanc to lead Spire’s global finance team.
Spire was founded in 2012 in the proverbial Silicon Valley garage, Lemnos’s first garage office in San Francisco’s SOMA district. Spire provides global weather and maritime intelligence through an advanced nano-satellite infrastructure. Spire’s satellites use radio frequency to cover the earth 100 times a day, “hearing” the number and location of ships and planes flying over remote locations, as well as extreme weather events brewing out in the ocean and over land. Three-quarters of the world is either ocean or uninhabited land, making ships, people, and equipment navigating those remote areas nearly untraceable. Spire aims to “bring those dark zones into the light.”
The company financed the launch of its first satellite in 2013 through a Kickstarter campaign focused on STEM education. Then known as NanoSatisfi, Spire created their first CubeSat using technology adapted from consumer electronics.
Now Spire has 48 commercial satellites in orbit and offices in Glasgow, San Francisco, Singapore, Boulder, and Luxembourg. Scientists, nonprofits, hedge funds, shipping companies, and governments all use Spire’s data.
“We are not a typical Silicon Valley story, but Lemnos helped us hone our ability to connect with investors. [Lemnos partner] Helen Zelman Boniske is very good at understanding the value proposition of a company and helping them present it in an easily digestible way,” says Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire. “If I count all the capital that came to us from either direct introductions from Lemnos, or introductions from those introductions, Lemnos is one of Spire’s single largest funding sources.”
Spire’s new Luxembourg office will be the company’s European headquarters, and the Luxembourg Future Fund, part of the European Investment Fund (an EU agency), has committed to becoming a shareholder in Spire. This is all part of a mutually beneficial long-term strategy. Luxembourg has singled out space as a key to economic growth, setting aside €200 million to invest in space-related companies that have or will have a presence in the Grand Duchy.
“Space activities are governed through international law between state actors, and Luxembourg has a seat at that table the same way other countries do. It was very attractive for us to have a seat at that table because corporations do not have that access,” says Platzer. “We gain licensing and investment, and Luxembourg gains a high-profile and highly active local presence. Both sides benefit strongly from this relationship.”
Platzer will be moving to Luxembourg to kick-start the new office in January. He has the goal of hiring 20 people for that office alone. To help will these and other hires, the company recently hired a veteran of the talent industry, Campbell Fitch, as Spire’s Global Head of Talent.
Those interested in learning more about Spire and its job offerings in all its offices can go to the company’s Career page.