RTP-based SmartSky lands $41M, wants $74M more ahead of air-to-ground network launch



Research Triangle, NC – June 10, 2020 – SmartSky Networks just got an injection of capital ahead of the launch of its new air-to-ground communications network for aviation.

The RTP-based in-flight internet provider recently raised roughly $41.3 million in equity and debt, according to a recent SEC filing. The round kicked off May 29, and SmartSky is still looking to raise another $73.6 million.

SmartSky is currently focused on expanding its coverage footprint by installing equipment on more cell towers and undertaking further system testing in preparation for launch, the company said.

“SmartSky Networks is pleased to have received considerable new capital from investors, allowing us to extend our runway as we continue deploying our next-generation Wi-Fi connectivity system for aviation,” Michael Miller, SmartSky’s VP of Corporate Marketing and Communications, told WRAL TechWire on Wednesday.

Six investors contributed to the round. The filing does not specify use of funds.

“We have received funds from multiple investors, both pre-existing and new,” Miller added. “The total amount raised in this round goes well beyond the $41 million we were legally obligated to disclose in our government filing.

“Our investors continue to demonstrate their conviction that SmartSky is commercializing innovative technology that will fundamentally transform aviation.”

With this latest round of funding, the company has raised more than $400 million since 2012.

Founded in 2011, SmartSky specializes in providing high-speed wireless internet to business and commercial airlines through cell phone towers.

In 2016, SmartSky, previously Jetpool Ventures, entered into a strategic partnership with Avidyne Corp, a company specializing in computer network and safety systems for aircraft.

Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration approved the SmartSky 4G LTE system. SmartSky claims the technology will make in-flight internet faster while lowering costs.

In January, it reached 150 patents in its intellectual property portfolio and have since then have crossed the 160-patent threshold and growing. “We have over 100 more patents pending,” said Miller.

Before the pandemic, SmartSky Chairman and CEO Haynes Griffin had said the commercial launch of its network would be coming in the second quarter, but it has been pushed back.

“Recent events have given everyone a reason to take a pause, adapt, and grow – SmartSky included.” Miller said. “We remain excited about SmartSky’s future, despite the current slowdown in business affecting many aspects of the economy and specifically the aviation industry. We will update the market as more progress is realized.”

About SmartSky Networks 
SmartSky Networks, based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, was formed in 2011 by senior telecommunications and aviation executives seeking to transform aviation through disruptive communications technologies and related tools. SmartSky is rolling out its innovative air-to-ground network in 2021. The network takes advantage of patented spectrum reuse, advanced beamforming technologies and 60 MHz of spectrum for significantly enhanced connectivity. SmartSky’s network uniquely enables a productive experience in the air similar to on the ground, including unmatched capacity for data transmissions both to and from the aircraft. This real-time, low latency, bidirectional data link makes SmartSky the best in-flight user experience, and a key enabler for the new and enhanced apps, services, and hardware. www.smartskynetworks.com

About Platform Partners LLC
Founded in 2006, Platform Partners LLC is a private investment company based in Houston that makes investments in lower middle-market companies with the intent of growing these businesses into industry leaders through a combination of organic and acquisition growth. Platform invests through a perpetual holding company structure allowing for a long-term, patient approach to partnering with entrepreneurs to build companies. The company manages total assets of approximately $450 million. For more information, please visit www.platformllc.com.