Building Out a Thesis on Data 2.0 – Satellites, Drones, & Data Analytics

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I firmly believe that we are on the brink of reaching escape velocity in the way we gather, categorize, and analyze both proprietary and existing data sets.

Over the course of my professional life, I’ve developed a few key theses that have driven both my career and personal interests strongly.

One of my first theses is one I’ve called the Niche Consumer. You can read more about it here, but the gist is that consumers are being driven to verticalized and specialized experiences. I believe this will reverberate throughout the United States across multiple socio-economic classes and industries ranging from food to travel to material good commerce to even real estate. Other theses I’ve written less about revolve around the staying power of suburban America, as well as personal wealth management.

My latest thesis is centered on what some are calling Data 2.0. I firmly believe that we are on the brink of reaching escape velocity in the way we gather, categorize, and analyze both proprietary and existing data sets that were previously un-attainable or largely too expensive for widespread, private sector use.

Innovation around things like satellite technology, drones, mobile phones, connected sensors, geospatial analysis and more broadly big data analytics has enabled a new crop of companies founded in the past 5-7 years to capitalize on this. And while their use-cases are extremely wide-ranging, they often serve deep-pocketed customers in both the private and public sectors, and many can enable change on a worldwide scale for good (examples here and here). In short, their potential customer base is large.

In addition to the primary use-cases, there are entire economies that will rise with these sectors.

Satellites

For satellites, there are innovators like Accion Systems, a company focusing on electric propulsion systems specifically for CubeSats, or Spaceflight Industries, which as part of its business offers “rideshare” services to aggregate demand and bring down the most costly part of commercial nano-satellite process (the launch) or space de-commissioning (”cleaners”) companies like Astroscale that see the inevitable rise of space debris and are proactively looking to service it.  Even Image analytics companies like Orbital Insight and Windward are able to serve as customers for the satellite operators by purchasing the imagery, while also providing a new, targeted layer of analytics to potential buyers across multiple industries. There even is an independent SPACE DETECTIVE AGENCY. And that’s just a few of the many companies working with satellites!

Drones

When I look at commercially-viable drones, I start to see primary use-cases around imaging (whether it be in agriculture, real estate, maritime or other areas) and delivery (an upcoming burden for governments worldwide) but also anti-drone detection companies like DeDrone, or drone-as-a-service companies like Dronebase. As the hardware continues to improve, I envision that drones will reach a point where they can deliver a layer of granularity that is a far-greater cost-proposition for specific use-cases versus low-orbit CubeSats, because as Yael Maguire says, “launching a drone is always going to be cheaper than putting a satellite into orbit.

Mobile

Moving to mobile, rising economies are less clear, however companies like Placemeter, which uses open cameras feeds and mobile phones to capture data about cities and the assets moving within them, has huge implications on both private-sector traffic modeling, as well as public-sector city planning.

Others, like Premise Data utilize the rising worldwide mobile phone adoption to gain a previously unparalleled view into consumer goods pricing and derive detailed economic data in emerging markets that allows a better economic understanding of our world than ever before. Data which is again, incredibly valuable to both the private sector (companies like P&G to hedge funds) and public sector (worldwide CPIs, economic development groups).

As I continue to build out my thesis around “data 2.0″ I believe the opportunity both present and future for many of these companies is massive. In fact, I’ve gone on record calling many of these companies future winners (or “Unicorns” if you’re into that). And what is most exciting is that, while some areas of tech in the past have taken years of growth in a specific geographic concentration, the data 2.0 trend is inherently global. Multiple companies mentioned above (and many others that I’ve left out for now) are being founded and doing incredible things in countries all around the world. This is a global movement.

In the coming weeks I’ll be synthesizing these thoughts into a series of reports (similar to my report on India online grocery delivery). The first will be around the rise, opportunities, use-cases, and the companies operating within the satellite space, some of which I’ve outlined here.

Stay tuned.