Tucson-based World View, the upper-atmosphere ballooning company that recently struck an economic development deal with Pima County that has been criticized by some local conservatives, announced today that it had landed $15 million in venture capital investment. TechCrunch reports:
World View, the advanced high altitude balloon company, has raised a $15 million Series B led by Canaan Partners. The round also included investments from Northwest Venture Partners, Tencent, Moment Ventures and Base Ventures. The company had previously raised $7.1 million.
This marks the second aerospace investment for Canaan Partners, who previously invested in Skybox Imaging.
“I believe World View’s commercial applications of above-earth technology have the ability to transform entire industries–from communications to emergency response to weather research and forecasting–and we’re excited to be part of it.” Deepak Kamra, General Partner at Canaan Partners.
While the company is perhaps best known for their World View Experience tourism offering, World View plans to use the new funding to advance the development and commercial adoption of their latest product, the Stratollite.
An advanced high altitude balloon, the Stratollite can be placed over specific locations for an extended period of time. The balloons can be deployed rapidly and the payloads can be retrieved if needed.
With these capabilities, a Stratollite could be used for research or remote sensing purposes, to collect weather data, or to provide communications to aid first responders in remote locations during times of disaster.
The Goldwater Institute is taking legal action against Pima County, saying that county officials violated state law and the Arizona Constitution's gift clause with a deal to build a headquarters and launch pad that World View will rent. County officials say they are on solid legal ground because World View is renting the facility, so there's no gift. Local business leaders have asked Goldwater to back off, saying that the litigious conservative foundation is threatening economic development efforts in Pima County.
Critics of World View, including Goldwater, have focused on the idea that World View is offering frivolous balloon rides to the upper atmosphere, but today's announcement shows that the company is actually using new technology to pioneer a cheaper alternative to satellites.
More to come as we get details on World View's new enterprise.