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Descartes gets $30 million in financing

SANTA FE, N.M. — Descartes Labs, a Santa Fe company that provides information about Earth derived from satellite imagery, announced Thursday that it has pulled in $30 million in venture capital.

Popping bottles of bubbly from Gruet Winery to mark the occasion, the firm’s 40 employees were on Cloud Nine, said CEO and co-founder Mark Johnson.

He said the Series B round led by Los Angeles-based March Capital Partners is a “watershed moment” for the tech company.

“Today’s funding round is one of the largest in the history of New Mexico” for a software startup, said Mark Johnson, founder and CEO.

“It is a lot of money, and a great validation” of how Descartes is evolving as a company, said Johnson, referring to growth in its customer base and further commercializaiton of its enterprise software.

The company previously raised $8.3 million in seed funding, which led to a hiring frenzy and relocation from Los Alamos to Santa Fe. Descartes, which was spun from Los Alamos National Laboratory, launched in 2015.

Thursday’s investment will fuel additional hiring for the young company playing in the emerging market of geospatial analytics, but which has yet to reach profitability.

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Johnson is looking to double the team in the next 12 to 24 months. Much of the hiring will happen in product development and sales.

One of those new faces will be Jamie Montgomery, a co-founder of March Capital Partners, who will join the Descartes board of directors, and is expected to be a frequent visitor. “He has a wealth of experience” in growing startup companies, said Johnson. “We’re really looking forward to profiting from his expertise and network.”

Descartes also will be looking for office space in which to accommodate its growing staff  — less than a year after moving into a 4,000-square-foot  pace at the Santa Fe Railyard, above LewAllen Galleries.

“It used to be so big, but now things are pretty snug,” said Johnson, who’s now scouting a larger, leased location in Santa Fe.

Johnson said it’s not hard to pitch New Mexico as a place to live, work and recreate. Several new hires — engineers and scientists fresh out of graduate school — have already been able to buy homes in the Santa Fe area.  “There’s no way in the world they could do that in the San Francisco Bay area” and other tech hubs where the cost of living is much higher.

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