SpaceX is in the process of acquiring the Swarm Technologies startup, which controls a small group of 120 nanosatellites to connect the IOT devices. For the first time since the company was founded, Ilon Mask SpaceX has been involved in the acquisition. It is not yet clear what are the reasons for this manoeuvre, especially on the SpaceX side, and what are the numbers involved. The request for absorption is still supported by documents submitted by Swarm to the FCC in early August. The documents request permission to transfer orbital frequencies and Earth stations from launch to SpaceX.
According to the documents, both companies signed the agreement on 16 July, and this will not be an acquisition aimed at destroying Swarm. Startap will continue to operate and will be fully controlled by Swarm Holdco, a company registered in Delaware on 5 May and owned by SpaceX. Thus, the deal appears to have been under preparation for several months.
Swarm Technologies satellites are called SpaceBee and are small nanosatellites measuring 0.25U and Swarm Eval Kit.
The latter is a set of solar panels and constellation equipment, which you can buy from a smartphone or laptop and send GPS coordinates or e-mails from anywhere in the world, which is basically a satellite antenna for a limited Internet connection that works without electricity.
Reasons for acquisition
The reasons for Swarm Technologies' acquisition by SpaceX are not quite clear. The documents submitted to the FCC state that Swarm would benefit from the transaction through easier access to capital services and synergies that would arise with the leading satellite company. Sarah Spangelo, co-founder and CEO of Swarm, however, stated several times early in the year that the start-up did not require major investments. The funds received with Round A in 2019 are still sufficient to continue the development of the constellation.
The reasons for this are even less clear from SpaceX. SpaceBee is not the same as Starlinks. In addition, the income guaranteed by the Swarm business would be negligible for the SpaceX budget. However, the FCC paper states that "SpaceX will benefit equally from both access to intellectual property and the experience gained by the Swarm team and from joining this resourceful team to SpaceX." This is also a certain change in direction for SpaceX, demonstrating how sensitive and important Starlink and the market it captures will be for Ilona Mask.