[Lightly edited on August 20 to clean up text and clarify points]
Roughly nine months after launching its first satellite, Internet of Things (IoT) satellite startup Helios Wire may be acquired by another firm. Details remain scarce as how the company came to this point, but communications from Helios Wire effectively came to a dead stop after mid-December 2018, while the CEO and CTO have taken other jobs per their respective LinkedIn profiles.
Recent inquires to Helios Wire’s general email account ([email protected]) and other contact points led to this response on the afternoon of August 19, 2018.
We are looking at a transaction right now and are in a mandated no disclosure / black out period. I’ll need a few more weeks before I can say anything.
Presumably “Scott” refers to Helios Wire CEO Scott Larson.
Helios Wire launched its Pathfinder II satellite on December 3, 2018 onboard the Spaceflight SSO-A mission. Tweets from the company and contractor ATLAS Space Operations reported successful deployment and tracking of the satellite in orbit. But little else emerged from the company since then, with its most recent web site posting taking place December 21, 2018, touting Helios’s plans to bring IoT and blockchain together with its proposed satellite network.
Scott Larson added the title of Kater CEO, a Vancouver-serving ride hailing solution, on January 2019 while CTO Eric Butte lists himself as President of EGB Engineering Consulting as of July 2019.
How many people are/were employed by Helios Wire is unknown, but there are several indicators that the company didn’t have a large footprint to begin with. Its LinkedIn profile said it has/had between 2-10 employees, with technical offices in San Francisco and Australia. The company’s corporate headquarters address in Vancouver, Canada is tied to The Profile Coworking Business Club’s location in the historic Gastown area. It is not clear if the company had formal offices in the same building as the co-working space or simply a post office box of some sort managed by The Profile.
Helios Wire initially intended to have two to three 12U-sized satellites in orbit around this time and it is still unclear what Pathfinder II’s status is; i.e. fully operational, partially functional, dormant, or dead. Its first satellite was lost onboard a November 2017 Soyuz failure. The company planned to build a constellation of satellites to pick up IoT data and distribute blockchain information, eventually binding IoT and blockchain data together.
If the Pathfinder II satellite is inoperable, Helios Wire’s only remaining asset would be the license for its S-band spectrum, assuming it owns and is not leasing it from a third-party. Transfer of the license to another party may be the reason why there’s a no-comment policy in effect. Helios Wire has 30 MHz of S-band spectrum available, an asset which would be coveted by several other satellite IoT startups including Swarm Technologies and Hiber Global.
How easily a sale may take place is unknown. The company said it secured $4 million in venture money in 2017 and had some sort of relationship with privately-owned Australian cattle tracking firm Sirion Global. A visit to Sirion’s website reveals the company claims it possessed 30 MHz of S-band spectrum, but the information on the site appears not to have been updated since 2013. Could Helios Wire be simply leasing their spectrum from Sirion? And there has been no disclosure as to what firm or firms invested in Helios, either via cash or other means.
The relationship with Sirion would explain why the Helios LinkedIn profile cites Australia as one of its technical offices while the Helion CTO lists his location in Cupertino, California — almost San Francisco by most measures.