[Satellite News – 3-10-08] Network solutions company DataPath Inc
. named industry veteran Dave Helfgott CEO in February.
The company has moved from mainly selling systems to the U.S. Department of Defense
into the commercial arena, acquiring network management software company ILC
in December 2006 and satellite communications manufacturer Swe-Dish Satellite Systems AB
in July 2007.
“In the last year, we have grown from our core, which was largely focused on Marine Corps
tactical [satellite communications] and systems integration, to much broader adjacent markets in the United States,” said Helfgott. “In the case of Swe-Dish and MaxView, we grew into the satellite and broadcaster market. All of these markets had the same technical requirements and the need to control those complex media-centric networks.
As a privately held company, DataPath does not report financial information, but the company has grown from $44 million in revenue in 2003 to $237 million in 2005, and today does about $300 million in revenue per year.
“We are growing every single year, so 2007 was better than 2006, we've projected 2008 will be better than 2007,” said Helfgott. “We're growing every year and we will continue to grow.”
Helfgott, who previously served as president and CEO of Americom Government Services Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SES Global, spoke with Satellite News
News Editor Jessica Pearce.
Satellite News: How have these acquisitions helped grow your commercial operations?Helfgott
: We had no commercial business prior to our acquisitions of Swe-Dish and ILC. We were entirely focused on the [Department of Defense], and that remains our core competency. We're not leaving those markets, we're quite good in those markets. What we've done is expanded into commercial markets from there. So Swe-Dish — about a third of their total business is commercial media based — they are global. They have wins in Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and North America. MaxView software is about roughly half commercial media and half defense-related. One of their biggest customers isDirecTV
. They also work with the DKET [Deployable Ku-band Earth Terminals] program. We are now heavily pushing this joint engagement approach where Swe-Dish products will have MaxView embedded, so you'll have the control software embedded into the products already. And our integrated [satellite communications] and wireless have Maxcom embedded, so you can control these solutions more easily. Each of these businesses has its own plans, but there's an integrated or cooperative approach as well. We've come to the commercial market in the last nine months.
Satellite News: Why did you want to expand into the commercial market?Helfgott
: It's a good idea to have diverse markets to balance your risk portfolio. We focus on the Army and Marine Corps, but we should also be focusing on the Navy, Air Force and National Guard. We focus on [Department of Defense] programs, but we also should focus on civilian government satcom and wireless programs. We focus on the U.S. government. We want to focus also on non-U.S. allied government opportunities. Lastly, we focus on certain aspect of commercial to complement our government work. You have a sense of the market coverage, but in every case we don't leave our core competency.
Every one of those users I described are specifically [satellite communications] and wireless and media network type applications. When I say commercial, what I'm referring to is the broadcaster/satcom operator marketplace. We're not very broadly outside of that space yet. The technical requirements of DirecTV are highly similar to the technical requirements of the [U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency] when it comes to monitoring, controlling, and automating a videocentric satellite network. We can take what we learn from one market and apply it to another market and vice versa.