Investing

Satellite imagery company Planet Labs is going public, backed by Google, BlackRock and Marc Benioff

A set of SkySat satellites before a launch.

Planet

Satellite imagery and data specialist Planet Labs is preparing to go public, announcing on Wednesday that it will merge with a SPAC to list on the New York Stock Exchange.

Planet Labs is combining with special purpose acquisition company dMY Technology Group IV, which trades on the NYSE under ticker DMYQ. The deal gives the space company a $2.8 billion equity valuation and is expected to close in the fourth quarter, resulting in Planet listing on the NYSE under ticker PL.

“Planet is a data company … we’re a mature business and have a massive new and unique data set of our 190 satellites, the largest Earth imaging fleet ever, and more than 10 times anyone else,” Planet co-founder and CEO Will Marshall told CNBC.

Shares of DYMQ rose over 7% in premarket trading from its previous close of $9.81.

Cofounder and CEO Will Marshall

Planet

The deal is expected to raise $434 million in total for Planet, including a $200 million PIPE round – or private investment in public equity – led by BlackRock and joined by Google, Koch, and Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures. Previously, Planet raised more than $380 million in capital from investors including Google, DFJ, Lux Capital, DCVC, Founders Fund, Space Capital, and more.

“I’m really excited by having such quality partners as we go into this important milestone for planet,” Marshall said. “We’re doing this for the long haul.”

Planet joins a trend of space companies going public through SPAC deals, with Virgin Galactic the first of the recent generation in 2019. Rocket builder Astra and satellite broadband focused AST & Science have each begun trading, with companies Rocket LabSpire GlobalBlackSkyRedwire, Satellogic, and Momentus expected to follow in the coming months.

A data subscription business

“Analytics are foundational to the biggest trillion dollar trends happening in the global economy with digital transformation of various industries,” Marshall said. “‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

He analogized Planet as a data business, rather than a satellite company, in the same way as Google is a search engine and advertising business, rather than server company.

“They have servers in the backend, yes … Planet has satellites in the back end and we’re really good at them,” Marshall said . “But we’re a data business – we sell data to our clients; that’s the value that they get”

Over $100 million last year

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