Peering Over the Horizon, WildBlue Co-Founder Tom Moore Sees Opportunities Beyond Launch of ViaSat-1 Satellite
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host of problems the company had been pondering as part of its decision to develop its own satellite. Before that, ViaSat specialized in satellite-based communications hardware and software, including modems, radios, and ground stations used mostly by the military and some commercial satellite customers.
Recruiting Moore to join ViaSat in 2008 helped to seal the WildBlue acquisition, Dankberg told me. “We’d been talking to him about the design of a 100 gigabit-per-second satellite,” Dankberg said. “The thing he was waiting for was whether we’d actually pull the trigger on it.”
Moore told me he had helped start WildBlue with the idea of using a satellite to provide broadband Internet service to residential and small business customers living in low-density suburbs and rural areas, where the costs of connecting to conventional cable or DSL service were prohibitive. “We visualized a market that was about 20 million homes,” Moore says. “The whole idea at the time was this would be equivalent to cable modem service, with a slight premium in cost.”
(Today WildBlue says it has about 420,000 subscribers, and Moore says the total market is probably closer to 12 million homes.)
But Moore resigned as WildBlue’s CEO in 2005, due partly to lack of support from controlling shareholders that stymied his ambition to integrate more advanced broadband technologies into WildBlue’s service. “I didn’t think WildBlue was innovating as quickly as we needed to,” Moore recalls. While the company was highly profitable, Moore says WildBlue also had taken on lots of debt as it completed … Next Page »