MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., March 16, 2015—Orbital Insight, a new company focused on creating market intelligence for decision makers and investors in a wide range of industries, today announced it has partnered with Sequoia in an $8.7 million Series A round, with participation from Google Ventures, Lux Capital, Bloomberg Beta, and citizen.vc. Dr. Bill Coughran represents Sequoia on the Orbital Insight board.
The company uses expertise in image processing, neural networks, machine learning, and statistical analysis to glean valuable insights from satellite images for a diverse body of customers, including hedge funds, real estate developers, insurance companies, government agencies, and international development and environmental non-profit organizations. Orbital Insight’s unique, cutting-edge application of satellite image analysis allows it to transform various industries with a rich understanding of relevant economic and social trends at an unprecedented scale and depth.
“There are so many possibilities for satellite images to help us better understand the world we live in today,” said Orbital Insight Founder, Dr. James Crawford. “We are looking at the world in a new way by processing millions of satellite images at a time and analyzing them using neural networks and other techniques. This ‘macroscope’ can help all kinds of companies better understand their industry, context, and future.”
The convergence of more powerful big data analysis tools, more intelligent machine learning algorithms, and more readily available satellite imagery has laid the groundwork for Orbital Insight to be a pioneer in the macro analysis of satellite imagery and other geospatial datasets. Many of Orbital’s customers are companies seeking information independent from government sources.
So far, the company has developed data products that forecast end-of-season crop harvest based upon mid-season spectral analysis and quarterly retail performance based upon counting cars in parking lots, as well as measure the rate of construction in China’s real estate sector and the fluctuations in global crude oil inventories months ahead of similar figures reported by other organizations.
“Orbital Insight is the first to establish this field and has a huge market opportunity to help companies make better decisions with more insightful predictive analysis,” said Sequoia partner Bill Coughran. “We’re thrilled to partner with James and team as they define this emerging industry.”
Crawford’s experience as head of Autonomy and Robotics at NASA Ames Research Center and as the Engineering Director of Google Book Search, where he was in charge of Google’s project to scan, index, and make searchable the world’s books, gives him the right background to guide the complex process of turning images into insight at Orbital Insight. The company is currently working with select customers, and the new funding will be used to hire engineers to build out new data product lines for the finance, retail, real estate, insurance, government, and non-profit sectors, as well as create a small sales team.
About Orbital Insight
Orbital Insight is a Geospatial Big Data company leveraging the rapidly growing availability of satellite, UAV, and other geospatial data sources. The company’s goal is to understand and characterize socioeconomic trends at global, regional, and hyperlocal scales.
The Sequoia team helps a small number of daring founders build legendary companies. We spur them to push the boundaries of what’s possible. In partnering with Sequoia, companies benefit from our unmatched community and the lessons we’ve learned over 40 years working with Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, John Morgridge, Jerry Yang, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Jan Koum, Brian Chesky, Drew Houston, Adi Tatarko and Jack Dorsey, among many others. In aggregate, Sequoia-backed companies account for more than 20% of NASDAQ’s total value. We’re proud that their success also fuels great causes: since 2000 alone we have returned more than $10 billion to non-profits like the Ford Foundation, Mayo Clinic and MIT.