Planet Labs Inks Deal for Google's Satellite Business

A screen grab of Terra Bella’s website

Google will sell its Terra Bella business, which includes a group of SkySat Earth imaging satellites, to Planet Labs, the companies confirmed on Friday after TechCrunch's Ingrid Lunden first reported that a deal was going down on January 25.

With the deal, Planet will receive seven high-resolution satellites that Terra Bella now has in orbit.

Founded in 2010, Planet builds small satellites and operates a so-called constellation for Earth observation.

Planet will use the Terra Bella capabilities to help grow its potential customer base: The company has a brisk commercial business, it says, through its existing medium resolution capabilities, but the higher-res imaging it'll get now will allow it to appeal to more consumer endpoints and broach new markets, including for clients like Google itself. But Marshall stressed that the SkySat acquisition is more "complementary" than anything else.




As quoted on Marshall's blog post, Google vice president of Product and Engineering Jen Fitzpatrick said that Planet Labs is a "natural" choice for Terra Bella's new home. This event is scheduled to take place on February 14.

The sale of Terra Bella is just the latest "moonshot" wind down at Alphabet. Specifically, Alphabet has singled out its robotics, self-driving auto, and drone arms, to name a few, as being of lesser importance. This is part of a greater plan by Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat, who has reshaped the company's myriad and often fanciful interests in futuristic technology with a more fiscal focus.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Google parent company Alphabet is backing away from another one of its peripheral and far-out missions, this time satellite imagery. According to the publication, rumored buyer Climate Corporation had offered a price of $300 million before getting outbid by Planet.

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