【英语财经】谷歌5亿美元收购卫星制造商 Google buys satellite start-up for $500m

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2014-6-11 18:53

小艾摘要: Google is spending half a billion dollars on a start-up that makes and launches satellites, in order to improve the accuracy of its mapping service and eventually expand internet access around the wor ...
Google buys satellite start-up for $500m
Google is spending half a billion dollars on a start-up that makes and launches satellites, in order to improve the accuracy of its mapping service and eventually expand internet access around the world.

The acquisition of Skybox will give Google access to a huge new trove of data to add to its extensive mass of personal information. The deal is the latest of many recent moves by Silicon Valley to look towards the heavens for expansion.

Skybox is one of several start-ups, including San Francisco’s Planet Labs, taking advantage of falling costs in building and launching satellites to bring new innovations to remote-earth imaging and monitoring. Traditional rivals’ satellites, such as Digital Globe, cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but Skybox’s cost less than $9m each, albeit having a shorter lifespan.

Google said that for now Skybox’s technology would help it improve its maps. “We also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve internet access and disaster relief,” Google said.

The push on internet access could help Google and Facebook expand the number of potential consumers. Facebook is growing faster in many emerging markets than it is in the near-saturated US and Europe, but many people in sprawling countries such as Indonesia and India lack reliable connections.

Five-year-old Skybox, which has 130 staff, launched its first satellite in November after raising $91m in venture-capital funding. SkySat-1 can capture photos and videos of any location on earth every three or four days.

Before the acquisition, Skybox had said it planned to launch a further 23 satellites within the next five years, including 13 by the end of 2016 – each generating a terabyte of data every day.

While its satellites can take images from space in great detail, Skybox’s co-founder and chief product officer Dan Berkenstock told the FT in an interview in April that the photos are like a “raw natural resource” that must be converted into data to be really useful.

Potential applications of its technology include estimating volumes of oil in containers by monitoring operations at facilities, monitoring sites of disasters or humanitarian crises, or tracking economic activity based on the number of planes flying in and out of selected airports.

谷歌(Google)将花费5亿美元收购一家制造及发射卫星的初创企业,目的是提高其地图服务的准确性,并最终改善全球范围内的互联网接入。

收购Skybox将令谷歌获得大量新数据,扩充其已经规模巨大的个人信息库。最近很多硅谷企业转向太空寻求扩张,这一收购就是最新案例。

Skybox、旧金山的Planet Labs等几家初创企业正利用建造及发射卫星成本不断下滑的机会,在远程地球成像和监测方面作出创新。Digital Globe等传统竞争对手的卫星通常要耗资数亿美元,但Skybox的成本却不到900万美元,不过寿命较短。

谷歌表示,Skybox的技术将帮助改善其地图服务。谷歌表示:“我们还希望Skybox的团队和技术能够帮助改善互联网接入和救灾。”

互联网接入的改善可能会有利于谷歌和Facebook接触到更多的潜在消费者。Facebook在很多新兴市场的增速超过市场已几近饱和的美国和欧洲,但在快速发展的印尼和印度等国家,很多人缺乏可靠的互联网连接。

Skybox创建仅5年,拥有130名员工,去年11月发射首颗卫星,此前筹集了9100万美元的风险资本。“SkySat-1”卫星可每隔三四天捕捉一次地球上任何地点的图片和视频。

在被收购前,Skybox曾表示,计划未来5年再发射23颗卫星,包括在2016年底之前发射13颗,每颗卫星每天会生成1万亿字节的数据。

尽管Skybox的卫星能从太空拍照清晰的照片,但该公司联席创始人兼首席产品官丹贝肯?斯托克(Dan Berkenstock)在今年4月接受英国《金融时报》采访时表示,这些照片像是一种“原始的自然资源”,必须转化成数据才能真正有用。

Skybox技术的潜在应用包括:通过监测工厂业务估测集装箱内的石油量、监测灾难或人道危机现场、或根据在所选机场起降的飞机数量评估经济活动。

译者/梁艳裳

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