Capella Space raises $60 million from billionaire Thomas Tull’s fund

A satellite image taken on the night of January 11, 2022 of NASA’s Artemis I mission prior to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Capella room

San Francisco-based satellite imagery specialist Capella Space has raised $60 million in fresh capital, the company announced Tuesday.

Capella raised the equity from the US Innovative Technology Fund, a recently formed private investment vehicle owned by billionaire Thomas Tull. The investor is best known for his work in the film industry, having founded the Legendary Entertainment production studio behind blockbusters such as Dune and The Dark Knight.

Capella is the fund’s first space investment, Tull told CNBC.

“It’s the combination of the best imaging available that we know … and other data tools” for the analysis, Tull said, adding, “If you’re taking a lot of pictures from space, you’d better be able to do it around them.” to sort.”

The recent capital increase brings Capella to approximately $250 million in total equity and debt financing since its inception in 2016. The company declined to disclose its valuation after the new capital raise.

“I’ve never celebrated fundraisers that we’ve done – it’s always been that we had to do something to do other important things – and that’s similar, but as you know the market is crazy. So I think it validates all the good things that we did when [we] can raise capital from quality investors like Thomas,” Capella founder and CEO Payam Banazadeh told CNBC.

This video shows the deployment of the Capella-3 satellite’s reflector, using its cantilever as a “selfie stick”. The reflector is folded and compact when it reaches space and expands into an object 3.5 meters in diameter.

Capella room

Capella’s business focuses on the satellite imagery market, with its satellites using a specialized technology known as Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR. The advantage of SAR is the ability to capture images at any time, even at night or through cloud cover – which often poses a barrier to traditional optical satellite technology.

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The company has increased its workforce to just over 200 people – nearly doubling its size over the past year – and currently has seven satellites in orbit. While Banazadeh declined to specify how many more satellites Capella plans to deploy in orbit, he said “we have quite a lot” of his next-generation Acadia satellites due for launch this year.

“There is more demand than supply and that’s a good problem,” Banazadeh said.

The company has doubled the volume of images it collects year after year, but revenue growth remains Banazadeh’s “North Star.”

“We’re very focused on market adoption, and so revenue is the metric we use… we had exceptional growth in 2022… and we expect similar growth in 2023,” he said

Capella also brought in a trio of executives: Chad Cohen stepped down as chief financial officer Adaptive Biotechnologies; Tech consultant Glen Elliott became chief human resources officer; and Paul Stephen, formerly of Zillow groupjoined as chief information security officer.

Correction: Glen Elliott joins Capella as Chief Human Resources Officer. A previous version misspelled his name. Paul Stephen joins the company as Chief Information Security Officer. An earlier version misrepresented its title. Capella’s workforce is just over 200 people. A previous version misrepresented the number.

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