A major acquisition by Google shows a bold new direction in one area for the tech giant, and one that could have major implications for everyone.
Google has just made a major move, and instead of acquiring a company, they’re dumping one of their divisions. Google has sold off the satellite imaging division known as Terra Bella to a startup called Planet, and Planet will be taking over the operation of seven SkySat satellites as a result, according to various reports.
Now, Google will purchase images for Google Earth and its other products from Planet instead of producing them in house. Google first purchased Terra Bella for $500 million in 2014, which eventually led to a constellation of high-resolution satellites aimed to improve Google Maps. It appears that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, will get an equity stake in Planet as part of the deal.
In addition, some employees from Terra Bella will join Planet, so this is more of a long-term partnership for Google and Planet than a full divestiture of assets on the part of Google. Planet, in the meantime, will continue to add to its total constellation and will launch 88 new Dove satellites.
“We are building an entirely new class of imaging satellites,” Terra Bella says on its website. “We’ve developed a high-resolution, small satellite platform capable of rapid response, high-resolution imagery at a fraction of the cost of traditional imaging satellites. One of the key enablers of this breakthrough is our ability to capture high-resolution color and near-infrared imagery (90 cm resolution) in a small <100 kilogram package. It’s like taking a picture of San Diego from San Francisco and being able to see objects up to the size of a car while moving at 5 miles per second.”