ViaSat, Inc. provides high-technology networking and signal processing equipment and services for broadband digital satellite and other wireless communications. In fiscal 2002, defense-related contracts accounted for about two-thirds of the company's business, with commercial contracts accounting for the remaining third.
Mark Dankberg, Mark Miller, and Steve Hart started Viasat, Inc. in a spare bedroom of Dankberg’s house. All three were former executives at M/A-COM Linkabit, a San Diego-based manufacturer of satellite telecommunications equipment and had complementary skills and remain in key roles at the company today. They formed ViaSat for the purpose of obtaining contracts from defense companies that were bidding on satellite programs. ViaSat provided engineering and proposal support for these companies. Dankberg became ViaSat's chairman and CEO, and Miller and Hart shared chief technical officer (CTO) duties, with Hart later becoming vice-president of engineering.
ViaSat, Inc. was founded in 1986 by Mark Dankberg, Mark Miller, and Steve Hart. They started Visat, Inc. in a spare bedroom of Dankberg’s house. All three were former executives at M/A-COM Linkabit, a San Diego-based manufacturer of satellite telecommunications equipment and had complementary skills and remain in key roles at the company today. They formed ViaSat for the purpose of obtaining contracts from defense companies that were bidding on satellite programs. ViaSat provided engineering and proposal support for these companies. If a company won a defense contract as a result of ViaSat's work, then ViaSat became a subcontractor on the project. After ViaSat received two such contracts, it gained venture capital funding in the amount of $300,000 from Southern California Ventures. Dankberg became ViaSat's chairman and CEO, and Miller and Hart shared chief technical officer (CTO) duties, with Hart later becoming vice-president of engineering.
ViaSat's business model combined consulting with manufacturing. Although the company began by providing consulting and other support services for defense companies, its work was aimed at developing products to manufacture. Its first breakthrough was the development and manufacture of specialized test equipment, which allowed the testing of sophisticated airborne radio equipment without expensive flight exercises. ViaSat proved its ability to design and manufacture test equipment, and the company began a string of profitable years beginning with its second year in business. Today ViaSat remains a global leader in satellite technology.
Funded R&D Projects At First, But Always With an Eye on the Product Business
ViaSat’s initial business was obtaining contracts for engineering & proposal support to defense prime contractors bidding satellite programs. Part of each agreement was the stipulation that, if these customers won contracts as a result, then ViaSat would become a subcontractor. After two such "proposal" contracts, ViaSat obtained venture financing of 300,000 USD from Southern California Ventures.
Even with its beginnings in consulting, every contract was aimed at developing products to manufacture. The first breakthrough was to develop and manufacture specialized test equipment. This product may have been at the periphery of the industry, but created a product basis, and demonstrated our ability to design & manufacture. Despite its very small capitalization and a declining defense budget, the company’s strategy resulted in growing revenues every year, and a record of profitability beginning in year two and continuing today.
Communications for the Network Centric Military
ViaSat’s initial successes in defense and government related communication products continue today in their Government Systems Division. Products include terminals, control systems, and training terminals for UHF and broadband military satcom; MIDS/Link-16 tactical communication terminals; video data links for UAVs; data messaging processors and software for bringing IP networking to the “tactical edge”; RF communication simulation systems; and secure networking products for encrypting both data communications and data storage within non-secure networks.
Communications for the Enterprise and Consumers
ViaSat has also built a line of commercial satellite networking systems for fixed sites and mobility. Products include satellite networking systems and managed network services for enterprise IP applications; gateway and customer-premises equipment for consumer and mobile satellite broadband services; antenna systems; satellite transceivers and other RF equipment; communication chipsets; and communication system design and engineering.
Strategic Acquisitions Build Competitive Strength and an Environment for Breakthroughs
Under one roof, ViaSat has assembled virtually all the technologies that are needed to design and develop complete satellite and wireless communication systems, from micro processing chips to satellite payloads. This vertically integrated approach gives ViaSat more freedom to design for optimum performance than if systems are assembled from the products of other manufacturers.
Various acquisitions have systematically brought together this expertise and technology, which enables ViaSat successfully execute larger and more complex projects and anticipate the fast changing marketplace.
- 1986: ViaSat, Inc. is founded by Mark Dankberg, Mark Miller, and Steve Hart.
- 1996: ViaSat has its initial public offering (IPO) in December.
- 1997: The company is named one of Forbes magazine's "200 Best Small Companies in America."
- 2000; Acquisition of Satellite networking and Antenna Systems of Scientific-Atlanta (SA) for 65 million USD and establishes its Satellite Networks Division.
- 2001: ViaSat acquires the satellite network terminal business of Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications and forms its Comsat Laboratories Division.
- 2001: ViaSat acquires Comsat Laboratories.
- 2001: ViaSat acquires US Monolithics monolithic microprocessor (MMIC) technology and RF technology for $30 million
- 2005: Efficient Channel Coding Inc, a producer of broadband communication integrated circuits and satellite communication systems was acquired
- 2006: ViaSat buys Enerdyne and its EnerLinksTM II video data link equipment and digital video system to serve the defense and intelligence markets,
- 2007: ViaSat acquires Intelligent Compression Technology with patented AcceleNet® WAN and application acceleration.
- 2007: ViaSat acquires JAST Antenna Technologies microwave circuits and antennas for terrestrial and satellite applications
- 2009: ViaSat acquires WildBlue Communications and its high-speed broadband service network serving 420,000 subscribers in the U.S
- 2010: ViaSat buys Stonewood Encryption, encrypted internal and external hard drives, certified to Top Secret levels in Canada and NATO countries
- 2013: ViaSat acquires LonoCloud with expertise in distributed cloud networking software
- 2014: ViaSat acquires NetNearU comprehensive network management system for provisioning, operating, and managing Wi-Fi and other Internet access networks
2016: ViaSat acquires Arconics, an international company that provides software for in-flight entertainment (IFE), flight document management software etc. for sharing data in aircraft.
Along the way, ViaSat has grown to over 2,900 highly skilled professionals. For the fiscal year ending March 29, 2013 revenues hit a record 1.1 billion USD. In addition, the company is an AS9100 certified company for quality assurance.
ViaSat began trading as a public company on the Nasdaq Stock Market in December, 1996 under the symbol VSAT.
Note: Comsat Labs and Comsat Laboratories are trade names of ViaSat Inc. Neither Comsat Labs nor Comsat Laboratories is affiliated with COMSAT Corporation. "Comsat" is a registered trademark of COMSAT Corporation.