The London Array, a 175 turbine 630 MW Round 2 offshore wind farm that can be found off the Kent coast in the UK © 2018, Planet Labs Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Curious Planeteer working to make the Earth's changes visible, accessible and actionable.

Fate and Faith: Taking the Leap into a Career at Planet


No matter how much we plan, sometimes fate intervenes. And if we’re lucky, we’re able to recognize the opportunity.  Last summer, I found the project I’d been working on for several years winding down and began to search about for a new adventure.  I did what most people do, and looked for something familiar, something I knew well. I found some but nothing that provided any sense of excitement. Perhaps, I thought, this is just one of those soggy parts of the path that I needed to push on through. And then a random connection with a recruiter on a mixed up reference check happened.  A space company? “No, that’s not quite what I’m looking for,” I said. In the fashion of any good recruiter, they persisted. I relented and agreed to meet, though I didn’t really take it very seriously. It didn’t sound very me.

But then I met the people.  Intimidatingly impressive.

I saw the tech. Cutting edge and very cool.

I learned the mission. Wow.

So I took a leap of faith.

My first week as Planet’s SVP of Software Engineering, I was blown away. Of course, the space aspects are awesome. Who wouldn’t love a job where launches involve actual rockets, your products are in orbit, and you get to meet famous astronauts? A bit less visible, maybe hidden behind the smoke and fire of those rocket launches are the even more amazing things we’re doing at Planet in software. You see, Planet is really a SaaS, data and intelligence business. We’re working hard turning the massive amount of data our satellites capture into information and insights that help our customers understand and manage change on Earth.

All of those satellites imaging the entire Earth each day are pumping down 1.2M images a day or 6TB of data! That’s not just big data, that’s massive data. At Planet we’ve built a platform that processes all of that, turning it into imagery and data products that drive an amazing set of capabilities across industries including agriculture, defense, forestry, energy and (my personal favorite) maritime. We’ve used computer vision and machine learning to process this data in ways and at scale that goes beyond even what traditional fleets of analysts at big geospatial agencies ever could. Imagine seeing a regular feed of changes to where roads or buildings are being constructed, how crops are changing, and what’s going on in marine environments automatically, and at global scale! At Planet, we’re constantly innovating and improving with next-generation spacecraft, more sensing capability, sharper imagery, more analytics and intelligence, and providing all of this to more people and for more purposes. That’s pretty insanely cool.

Now every day I’m learning something new. About space. About imagery. About machine learning. About our Earth. I’d say it’s pretty hard to beat that.

I’m amazed and very happy that I ended up here.

So I can’t help but feel that maybe the path that brought me here was a bit of fate intervening.  Five months later and I have no doubt the leap was worth it.