Silicon Valley's Hottest Innovations 2016

Forecasting Fortune

Spire wants to make weather reporting a precise science than an art



Spire - Company Details$2.8 trillion. That’s the amount that businesses will lose globally due to bad weather this year. “Weather impacts everything we do. Extreme variations in weather are occurring with greater frequency and since we do not have access to proper data to predict weather more accurately, we are losing trillions of dollars,” says Peter Platzer, founder and CEO, Spire. This San Francisco-based company is hoping to change all that by collecting data through a constellation of small satellites and making weather forecasts more accurate. 

Currently, about 94% of the data that goes into weather forecasting comes from a handful of satellites. “They are costly, have the same technology as a 486 computer and yet, there aren’t enough of them,” says Platzer. Space was always an interest area for him since he started his career in 1990s, but he sensed that he couldn’t make a business out of it. So, he pursued a career in finance and spent over a decade in Wall Street. While the executive program in Singularity University rekindled his interest in space in 2009, it wasn’t until he wrote his research paper on nano-satellites for his post graduation at International Space University in France, did he realise that there was a huge opportunity in small satellites. He and his two classmates formed Spire in 2012. “When we started the company, we looked at what is the competitive advantage of small satellites, where numbers matter and not size. If size mattered, it didn’t make sense to compete. We wanted to focus on data and the only way to get them is from satellites, and that too a large constellation of satellites,” says Platzer, who is a physicist with an MBA from Harvard. He say


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