For SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell it all started with a suit, and this year at SATELLITE 2015, it was all about a black t-shirt. It seems clothing metaphors are en vogue in the satellite industry. SATELLITE 2015, in some ways, did feel like a watershed moment for the industry. Our Satellite Executive of the Year Award winner was one of the new up and coming CEOs from Silicon Valley who accepted the award in typical Silicon Valley style — not wearing a suit. It really was that type of event.
To keep the clothing metaphors going a little bit longer, it seems as though the satellite industry is suddenly fashionable again. I think one of the reasons for this is the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders in the industry are a very idealistic generation. It is a cliché but they really do want to help the world as well as make money at the same time.
Satellites are great way of reaching communities that have been disadvantaged and don’t see the levels of investment of thriving urban centers. We do live in a connected society and, while telecoms and wireless technologies have their upsides, satellites are now back in fashion and in a big way. With much talk about the Internet of Things, global security, as well as connecting everybody across the world, satellite suddenly finds itself at the center of things once again. It is no longer the dinosaur technology that was once seen to be on its last legs.
However, satellites were in fashion in the late 1990s and that did not pan out so well; but you can’t always hold the past against someone or a new idea going forward. Technology, demands, and business models have evolved, and I am confident this new era will bring more success than failure. There is a sea change taking place in the industry, a new dynamic that you could feel on the show floor.
I am already looking forward to SATELLITE 2016. It maybe time to dust off that old black T-shirt for the “Big Four” panel next year.
Mark Holmes is the editorial director of Via Satellite and