Deep Space Industries (DSI) has brought in what the companies terms a “Start-Up Strategist” as their new CEO replacing Daniel Faber, the former Chief Operating Officer elevated to CEO two and half years ago.
Meet Bill Miller, DSI’s New Asteroid Mining Leader
The new CEO, William “Bill” Miller, founded his first company, Intercomputer Communications Corporation while he was still in grad school and built it into a company with $36 million in an annual income within 10 years. He then sold it to Digital Communications Associates (DCA) in 1991. DCA became a major player in the telecom industry in the 80’s with its statistical multiplexer.
Miller joined DCA as vice president and CTO where he set the companies strategy for 10 years. According to his biography at DSI, his success at DCA in setting strategy for 10 years garnered him the position of president of a new division which oversaw the creating of future technologies for the company. DCA was acquired by Attachmate Corporation in 1995.
In 1997 Miller joined Delta Airlines fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a commercial pilot. In 2008 Miller and wife decided to travel the world and he became a licensed Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Captain and piloted, with his wife, their 19.2 m (63′) yacht.
More recently he has been focusing on New Space startups and became a general partner of the Space Angels Network.
DSI Four Years Later
For DSI, the hiring comes at a time when the company is in need of generating cash flow. That’s why Miller was brought on board. His previous experience will be used to build a new strategic plan to generate cash flow as the company attempts to build towards their long-term goal of mining asteroids.
DSI first came to the public eye on January 22, 2013. At that press conference, grand plans were announced including the launch of their first FireFly prospecting CubeSat (25 kg) spacecraft prototype in 2015. This was to be followed in 2016 by a larger FireFly CubeSat (32 kg) to bring samples from an asteroid.
DSI was hoping to raise $3 million in 2013 and $10 million in 2014. They didn’t meet those targets and never launched a FireFly spacecraft. Without enough funding this was to be expecting.
DSI however did have some funding from initial investors, though how much and from whom, was never disclosed.
As with many startups if the funds don’t come, the business eventually dies off.
In October 2015 after surviving on the initial investor funds and some small NASA concept study funding, DSI got their first seed funding form Metatron Global, a Czech investment firm. One of the partners at Metatron is Petr Johnes who had previously relocated to Silicon Valley. With Petr’s backing, Metatron made a seed investment in DSI. Typically seed investments provide enough funding to keep a company going for 18 to 24 months. Johnes would join the Board of Directors. For DSI this was much needed cash infusion.
A month before the announcement of Metatron’s funding, DSI also another made a decision which has helped propel the company forward. They hired Grant Bonin, a respected small satellite engineer and manager. Bonin worked in Toronto at Canada’s leading small spacecraft manufacturing company/education institution, the Space Flight Laboratory which is part of the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies.
Bonin would be DSI’s new Chief Technology Officer and spearhead technology efforts. One of those efforts is the manufacturing of the Comet-1 Water Thruster. The Comet-1 will be used in the HawkEye 360 spacecraft, a contract DSI won in May of this year. That contract will see DSI, in collaboration with the Space Flight Laboratory, build the HawkEye 360 spacecraft. This is one of the technologies Miller will be tasked to commercialize in his efforts to generate the revenue DSI needs and which might lead to further investment rounds.
The Canadian Team
Supporting Miller at DSI is a dedicated team that includes a good contingent of Canadians.
Daniel Faber, the outgoing CEO is naturalized Canadian, and it’s through his efforts that DSI has a strong Canadian contingent in key roles. They include the above mentioned Grant Bonin, as well Nathan Orr, Chief Engineer, Scott Armitage, Director of Space Systems and most recently, Peter Stibrany, Chief Business Developer and Strategist.
Stibrany, who is highly respected in the community, recently left MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) where he was Director, Strategic Development and Mission Architect.
For Faber this isn’t the end of his tenure at DSI. He’ll be advising Miller as he takes the reigns at DSI and keeping an eye on the company as a shareholder.
Faber was one of the original founders at DSI and one of the architects of the original spacecraft and soon after the company’s founding became Chief Operating Officer before ascending to the role of CEO.
Faber stated in a email to colleagues he will be working on a new project which is in “stealth mode” and that he will also be advising other New Space startups.
Updated: January 15, 2017 4:30 p.m. EST.