Amiram Levinberg, Chairman, Gilat Satellite Networks
Amiram Levinberg, who is now Gilat’s chairman but was CEO for all of 2011, led the company to another strong year punctuated by a number of impressive contract wins, good financial performance and a positioning of the business to take advantage of potentially lucrative segments such as satellite communications in Latin America, as well as the U.S. government and defense business.
The company had a healthy increase in revenues for the first nine months of 2011 compared with 2010, growing from just under $167 million in 2010 to more than $245 million in 2011. Strong performance in its core VSAT business was the key behind this increase, despite the acquisitions of Raysat and Wavestream, which also brought extra revenues into the equation. Net profits were down, but this was mainly due to a one-off settlement fee, rather than any dip in the company’s performance.
Gilat signed several key contracts in 2011, including an extension with the Colombian Ministry of Information Technology and Communications for rural telecoms projects, a new contract to provide broadband services in rural Peru and one to provide turnkey VSAT network and operations for NBN Co’s interim satellite service in Australia. Its SkyEdge range of VSAT products remain some of the most popular of its kind and is one of the main reasons that the company posted such strong revenue increases in 2011.The company also reached a significant milestone when it announced in September that it had shipped more than one million VSATs.
Due to Israeli corporate regulations, Levinberg can no longer combine the CEO and chairman roles, and thus at the start of this year, he became chairman and Erez Antebi became CEO.
The company is now looking to expand into segments such as milsatcom and government. While milsatcom budgets, particularly in the United States, are being cut, the demand for bandwidth is not going away and Gilat could be a key beneficiary in the long-term. While its performance in the VSAT business remains strong, one of the future barometers will be its ability to monetize areas such as milsatcom and Ka-band.
Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium Communications
CEO Matt Desch has led Iridium to grow in areas that it was not expected to, driven by technological innovation in an ever-increasingly competitive sector. In September, Iridium saved up a month’s worth of new mobile satellite products and services announcements and packaged them into Iridium Force — an initiative that involved the opening of its core Iridium technology licensing, the launch of a new handset and the expansion of capabilities under its existing portfolio. The Iridium Force strategy includes allowing connectivity to Wi-Fi enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, as well as for applications beyond the reach of terrestrial networks. Desch’s plans to invest in developing open and embedded technology allowed collaboration with a broader set of solution partners in new markets. Elements of this plan included the Iridium Extreme rugged satellite handset; the Iridium Core 9523 voice and data module; and the rollout of Iridium AxcessPoint. This product has already generated a variety of new business for the MSS operator. AxcessPoint also was recently released as an Apple iPhone/iPad app.
The company also performed solidly from a financial perspective. In the first nine months of 2011, the operator generated close to $290 million in revenues, an increase of just under $30 million compared with the same stage last year. Its net profits were also up reaching more than $31 million, more than double the figure of the previous year.
In February 2011, Orbital Sciences entered into an agreement with Iridium Communications to reserve 20 percent of the hosted payload capacity on the operator’s Iridium Next satellite constellation. In July, Iridium announced that Desch was appointed to serve on the U.S. National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC). Desch now advises and provides recommendations to President Barack Obama and other government leaders on the security of the nation’s telecommunications systems.
There’s no denying that Desch has charted a considerable change of course for Iridium since its unstable days back in the early portion of the previous decade. Many satellite industry watchers saw the 2010 Iridium Next Coface financing deal as the catalyst that solidified its comeback. Desch’s latest initiatives could drive an industry evolution.