March 8 (UPI) -- A San Francisco company with about 100 satellites in orbit for weather and transportation monitoring has plans to expand after listing its stock for public trading this summer.
Spire Global is confident it can use its existing satellites to produce much more data and attract new customers with $475 million in cash it expects to raise by going public, CEO Peter Platzer said in an interview last week.
The company plans to hire about 100 people, adding to the current staff of 265, he said.
"We are a global ... company selling data analytics from space to large corporations and governments all across the world," Platzer said. "We recognize that being a public company gives us an extra level of credibility and resources."
Spire's Lemur satellites are only about the size of a loaf of bread with small solar arrays attached. They carry various imaging instruments that can sense things like soil moisture or greenhouse gas emissions -- the gases that contribute to global warming.
Spire's customers can "reconfigure our hardware, or give us their hardware and we'll put it on the next launch," Platzer said. "But we provide the infrastructure."
One of the company's biggest markets is the shipping industry, he said.
"We can help them more accurately predict the path of hurricanes and inclement weather, which helps reduce fuel use and cost," Platzer said. "Helping customers boost fuel efficiency and energy efficiency is a primary use of the data."
The company will be listed under the ticker SPIR on the New York Stock Exchange once the deal is finished. That deal will value the company at $1.6 billion, upon approval of stockholders and regulators at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.
Such a high value is outsized compared to the company's current annual revenue, which is about $36 million, said Claude Rousseau, a space analyst with France-based Northern Sky Research.
"Spire has broken down barriers in many instances, with respect to getting some customers signed up to their service," Rousseau said. "But signing up additional customers, especially in new industries, could prove more challenging than they realize."
That's because tech companies often encounter unforeseen issues when trying to apply a service to a broad set of new customers, he said.
Rousseau said Northern Sky believes Spire will find new customers for climate and fuel-efficiency services.
"We think that those opportunities are growing, but there's going to be new competition also," he said.
Spire Global is one of a half-dozen space companies that are going public through a reverse merger with an existing publicly traded company.
In Spire's case, the merger is with a financial firm called NavSight Holdings, which is known as a blank-check company because it was formed only for the planned merger and it has no revenue.
The merger, known as a SPAC for special purpose acquisition company, speeds up the process of going public by as much as a year or more.
Other companies using such SPAC methods include launch companies Rocket Lab and Astra.