One thing I have learned is to always pay close attention to who is going to profit from tragedy and misfortune. In most cases the money trail will
lead you to the source.
DigitalGlobe is one company that’s catching my eye as of recently.
Now I started digging and at this point I have to admit, I have not found any reason to believe that there is any type of nefarious conspiracy
surrounding this company. There have been instances that suggest they have had preferential treatment and inside knowledge of government contracts.
But when it comes to the search for MAS370 it doesn't appear to be anything more than evil profiteers exploiting a mishap. That’s why I posted this
to the Rants section.
DigitalGlobe is a publicly traded company and a leading global provider of commercial high resolution earth imagery products and services according to
its website. You may have read about or even visited one of their subsidiary websites recently in search of Malaysian Airlines flight 370.
DigitalGlobe was founded in 1992 under the name WorldView Corporation in conjunction with the 1992 Land Remote Sensing Policy Act. The company
obtained its first remote sensing satellite license in 1993 and work began on its first satellite thereafter. In 1995 Worldview merged with Ball
Aerospace & Technologies Corp and became EarthWatch. The plan was to build a system of spacecraft to produce high-resolution on-demand satellite
Earthwatch launched its first satellite, Early Bird 1, on December 24, 1997. The satellite was the first commercial satellite launched from the
Svobodny Cosmodrome. Not very much later EarthWatch began work on QuickBird 1. This second satellite was launched in November 2000 from the Plesetsk
Cosmodrome but did not obtain planetary orbit. QuickBird 1 was ruled a failure but apparently did not affect the company’s future.
On September 4th of 2001 EarthWatch was awarded a DOD contract totaling $13,453,500.00. This contract was primarily for global access priority to the
soon to be launched QuickBird II, the extremely fast built replacement for QuickBird 1. Before the end of September 2001 though, Earthwatch suddenly
became DigitalGlobe. And on October 18th 2001; a month and a half after securing the DOD contract under the company name Earthwatch, the now named
DigitalGlobe launched QuickBird II from Vanedenberg Air Force base in California. DigitalGlobe never looked back.
In 2007 they launched a 3rd satellite, Worldview-1. In May of 2009 the company went public and began trading on the NY Stock Exchange before finishing
up the year by launching a 4th satellite, Worldview-2. And in 2010 the company was contracted by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to
complete a 10 year, $3.6 billion imagery program. However, at the same time the NGA was contracting DigitalGlobe, they were also giving they exact
same contract to DigitalGlobe’s only competitor, GeoEye.
In May of 2012, GeoEye made an attempt at acquiring DigitalGlobe. GeoEye offered $792.3 million for DigitalGlobe which at the time seemed rather low.
GeoEye had made the low-ball offer because inside information supposedly led them to believe DigitalGlobe was going to lose its NGA contracts due to
cutbacks on federal spending, leaving them vulnerable for take over. It turns out, their information was wrong.
In June of 2012 the NGA instead pulled GeoEye’s contract. Before the end of July 2012, DigitalGlobe was the one penning an amusing $450 million deal
to purchase GeoEye and its two satellites IKONOS and GeoEye-1. With really no other option, GeoEye, a company that only two months earlier was valued
at $900 million, quickly accepted.
Now I mentioned earlier that according to the DigitalGlobe website, they are a leading global provider of commercial high resolution earth imagery
products and services, but that is false. The truth is, Digital Globe is the leader. As in, they are a monopoly. A monopoly that the
anti-trust section of the Justice Department knowingly approved in February 2013, when they allowed DigitalGlobe to acquire it’s only comparable
competitor at the time, GeoEye.
With its only competition out of its way, DigitalGlobe set sights on expanding the services they could provide. In April of 2013, DigitalGlobe
purchased the 5-man company Tomnod. The company hoped to couple Tomnod’s capability of analyzing images using proprietary crowdsourcing software
with high-resolution images from their own 5 operating satellite constellation (Quickbird II, Worldview-1, Worldview-2, IKONOS and GeoEye-1).
But not everything has been looking up for DigitGlobe as of recently. See DigitalGlobe gets 53% of its revenue from that National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency contract. A contract that looks to be on the chopping block if rumors of additional budget cuts for the NGA hold true.
To add to those woes, smaller-startup satellite companies are beginning to enter the game and offer cheaper priced imagery to the global commercial
With word of these rumors circling, and the looming threat of smaller companies out-pricing them, DigitalGlobe once again looks to add to the menu of
services they can render. So on February 24 2014 DigitalGlobe announced they were purchasing Spatial Energy, a company who produces usable data from
Earth images to a wide variety of clients including 12 of the 20 largest oil and gas companies in the industry. Ironically if you can call it that; on
the same exact day, DigitalGlobe announced that they did not meet fourth quarter expectations and that they expected 2014’s revenue to fall some $50
million short of its previously stated $712 million estimate. Immediately DigitGlobe was hit with a 27% drop in the price of its stock.
So how exactly does a company change its seemingly downward sliding future in less than a month?
If you guessed, by taking advantage of a dire situation such as missing flight 370 and the free advertising that comes along with a 24 hour news
cycle, you would be correct.
What better way to get the average public, investors, potential clients and Congress to know all of your products and services then by having your
company name plastered on virtually every form of media produced for nearly 96 hours straight. What better way to analyze and catalog miles upon miles
of satellite imagery then by coercing millions of volunteers to do it for you for free under the guise that they may solve a mystery. And what better
way to strong-arm the continuation of a huge NGA contract then by making yourself angelic in appearance, indispensable and necessary in the eyes of
the tax payers and members of Congress. Its genius really, once you get past the fact they are milking the suffering of over 250 families for
So the next time you think about logging onto www.tomnod.com, please remember that you are advocating some truly reprehensible actions. Be aware that
you are helping to ensure a monopolies future. And furthermore your goodwill is being used to help this company plunder more federal contracts; again
all under the guise that you may find the needle in the haystack, that you may find flight MAS370.
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