Tony Elumelu’s Heirs Holdings has invested an undisclosed amount in Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based satellite manufacturing technology firm, becoming the only African investor in the firm.
The firm, which manufactures satellite imaging technology aims to use the funds to help monitor Africa’s natural resources and agriculture.
Planet Labs’ co-founder, Robbie Schingler, said, “We are very excited to welcome Heirs Holdings to our team of investors and thank them for their support. The funding that they and other partners provide is vital for our development as a company and we are particularly pleased to be working with an African company, as our technology has the potential to support Africa’s development by monitoring and mapping the continent’s natural resources and agriculture.”
According to Elumelu, “As the only African investor in Planet Labs’ project, we are incredibly proud to have supported such an innovative and dynamic company, which has already achieved significant success. As part of our business philosophy of Africapitalism, we are committed to supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups to enable them to bring scale to their projects and we look forward to following Planet Labs’ achievements over the coming years.”
The US-based firm wants to introduce ultra-small satellites called “doves.” that circle the planet in low orbit and take higher resolution images than traditional satellites. The firm’s technology is also significantly cheaper to produce and deploy than existing technology. Moreover, as they orbit closer to the Earth, they are able to take higher-resolution images than traditional satellites.
In 2013, Planet Labs launched four satellites on three rockets, and delivered their first fleet of 28 satellites, which are expected to head into space shortly.