Bill Gates Vs. Elon Musk: Starlink Competitor Funded By Gates Shares Criticism Of SpaceX CEO

Zinger Key Points
  • A satellite company backed by Bill Gates is speaking out about Elon Musk's space company.
  • Kymeta, which Gates has invested in, says it would never turn off its satellite services.

The world’s richest man is helping a war-torn country with satellite communications. That helpfulness has led to controversy and now has a rival company backed by another billionaire speaking out.

What Happened: SpaceX and Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk provided Starlink satellites to Ukraine as the country has been invaded by Russia.

Musk and his SpaceX company have funded the satellites in Ukraine, a fact that led to a callout for the U.S. Department of Defense to help with funding. Musk withdrew the request and said SpaceX would keep funding the operation.

Kymeta, a rival of Starlink, is speaking out about Starlink satellites being used by Ukraine. Kymeta Chief Development Officer Bill Marks was critical of Starlink in comments shared by Bloomberg Law.

Marks said the threat to turn off Starlink services in Ukraine could be a violation of international law and a move that was “egregious.”

“I’m sure there’s blood on his hands for that,” Marks said.

Related Link: Elon Musk's Starlink Files For Data Imagery, GPS Location Trademarks: Why This Expert Says They're 'Something To Pay Attention To'

Why It’s Important: The Department of Defense is considering funding other efforts from other satellite communications companies for use in Ukraine.

The efforts come as reports surfaced that Starlink didn’t work in certain parts of Ukraine in recent efforts against Russia.

Kymeta is heavily funded by Bill Gates, who first invested in the company in 2016, and then again in 2020. Other investors in Kymeta include Intelsat and Lux Capital.

Kymeta donated and sold satellite technology to Ukraine, according to the report.

An investment in the company by Gates could center around a future for rural areas. Kymeta CEO Walter Berger said Gates’ investment in Kymeta started with the company having the potential of “democratizing connectivity.”

Kymeta has existing deals with the Department of Defense and is also in talks with other countries for services.

“The reason the U.S. military likes our technology is that if you were an adversary and you do something to compromise one of the satellites, our antenna will switch to another satellite. And it does all within less than a second,” Marks added. “The soldiers would’ve never lost connectivity.”

Marks highlighted the comparisons between Kymeta and Starlink and the use of a modular system versus a single network system for its rival.

“The biggest difference between our terminals and the Starlink terminals, besides the fact that we would never shut them off, is our terminals work on the move.”

Gates has not been vocal about his investment in Kymeta so it could be unlikely that a war of words happens between the Microsoft co-founder and Musk.

Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have sparred over their related space companies SpaceX and Blue Origin.

Related LinkElon Musk Says He Assured Ukraine SpaceX Won't Turn Off Starlink In Fight Against Putin's Forces Even If US Refused Funding

Photo: Alex Konon via Shutterstock


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Posted In: NewsSPACEGeneralBill GatesDepartment of DefenseElon MuskKymetaLux CapitalRussiasatellite companiesspace companiesSpaceXStarLinkUkraine
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