SpaceX just dipped its toes into the Internet of Things. SpaceNews reports that SpaceX has acquired Swarm Technologies, a startup best known for smallsats that power IoT services. The two companies aren’t shy about how this will help Swarm — this gives the younger company the resources it needs to take on other smallsat operators, no to mention “synergies” that come with a company used to designing and launching satellites.
Swarm’s commercial mini-satellite network just went live in February of this year, but it already had enough funding to finish rolling out an array of 150 satellites. It’s a small company with roughly 30 employees as of March.
It’s not clear if or how SpaceX will alter its strategy as a result of the deal, although an FCC filing suggested Elon Musk’s outfit would primarily benefit from Swarm’s “intellectual property and expertise.” In other words, this might be an acquihire rather than an expansion of SpaceX’s strategy.
There are areas where the businesses might mesh well. SpaceX is busy deploying a giant constellation of relatively small Starlink internet satellites. The firm also recently began launching rideshare missions full of cubesats and other small payloads. Swarm would at least serve as a customer for those rideshare missions. It might also help SpaceX refine or expand its smallsat efforts, no matter how much IoT plays a role.