The Emerging Cyber-Space Nexus: Why C5 Capital Invested in Satelles

Published 10th Oct

William Kilmer Author

Yesterday C5 Capital announced its investment in Satelles, a US-based provider of secure Satellite Time and Location (STL) services. C5 led the $26M round, which included both financial investors and participation from strategic partner Iridium Communications. This investment marks the first time C5 Capital has invested in a company involved in the space economy, a sector which is projected to more than triple to become $1 trillion market by 2040.

Our specialization in cyber security has taught us one very clear lesson, that cyber attacks know no boundaries. Unfortunately, this means that the space economy is subject to the same vulnerabilities and threats as the rest of our infrastructure, and what can be exploited, will be exploited. At risk are the applications that run off of traditional Global Positioning System (GPS) and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), which can be spoofed, disrupted or are subject to the performance limitations of GPS on requirements such as in-building coverage.  Applications in key markets such as government, telecom, energy, critical infrastructure, financial services, data center applications, mobile applications, and logistics increasingly rely on secure time and location signals from space and are subject to disruption.

An attack on global positioning and navigation systems, which can include jamming, hacking, or spoofing—a method by which a radio transmitter near the target is used to interfere with a legitimate GPS signal, could make these applications fail or be viewed as untrustworthy. The news media have already highlighted issues with GPS spoofing, and GPS downtime is increasingly seen as a national security and economic threat, resulting in calls for a secure backup or alternative to GPS. A recent report, sponsored by the US National Institute of Standards of Technology, estimated that a 30-day interruption to GPS would result in a $45 billion loss to the US economy alone. 

Satelles overcomes these issues with a secure time and location service that runs over the Iridium constellation of 66 Low-Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites, allowing devices to connect from almost anywhere on the planet. With a direct partnership with Iridium, Satelles is able to exclusively provide the service over Iridium’s existing LEO satellite infrastructure with superior coverage and a signal that is 1,000 times stronger than GPS. This produces a service that achieves much higher in-building penetration, allowing a greater use of applications. 

Importantly, Satelles’ unique technology and partnership with Iridium has allowed them to create a truly scalable and trusted STL as a service platform which can be turned on and off by region, thus creating a truly unique business model.

Finally, we believe Satelles be successful because it is run by an innovative team, including serial entrepreneurs and satellite experts Michael O’Connor and Gregory Gutt. Both Ph.D.’s from Stanford, Mike and Greg have studied and worked with other GPS technology pioneers, developed innovative GPS technology, and successfully started and grew the satellite-based farming automation company Novariant. They know and understand the issues with global positioning and navigation and are the two most qualified individuals to run an innovative company like Satelles. 

The combination of a new and growing market, proprietary technology and position, unique business model, and innovative team all line up to rocket Satelles forward to success. We look forward to working with the Satelles team as they continue the deployment of secure satellite time and location services.

As a side note, Satelles is C5 Capital’s first investment in the nexus of cyber and space, but not our only activity. C5 Accelerate, our accelerator arm, is currently sponsoring an early-stage accelerator cohort that includes companies focused on both cyber and space issues. One key event for this cohort will be with a panel for invited guests that includes thought leaders to discuss the issues around space and cyber on October 18th in Washington DC. If you are interested in attending that panel discussion, sign up at our invitation page. Report this

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William KilmerAuthor | Investor | Company BuilderPublished • 59m37 articlesFollowingOur investment in Satelles was driven by a clear market need, a unique business model, and experienced team. As we become more dependent on secure time and location to drive our applications, Satelles’​ on-demand satellite time and location (STL) service will be come a significant component in the space and terrestrial economies.