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

A satellite image acquired by NASA’s Artemis I mission at night prior to liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on November 14, 2022.

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 blockbuster films 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 available imaging 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 them.” sort by.”

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’ve had other important things to do – 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 its ability to capture images at any time, even at night or through cloud cover – which is often a barrier to traditional optical satellite technology.

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The company has increased its headcount to almost 200 employees — nearly double the size of last 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 its next-generation Acadia satellites scheduled 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 Elliot became chief human resources officer; and Paul Stephen, formerly of Zillow groupjoined as chief information officer. Capella Space raises $60 million from billionaire Thomas Tull’s fund

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