Iridium… in the news twice in one week?

Last Thursday, September 21, 2006, Iridium Satellite , the remnant operator of the 77 satellites of the Iridium debacle of the late 1990s named Matt Desch, the former Nortel Wireless division president under John Roth. Congrats Matt. …

…and then, this morning a story in the Wall Street Journal (sub. may be required) reported that Motorola may be on the hook for the debt of the failed Iridium venture. The relationship between Motorola and Iridium were a little incestuous – but clear, even to the sophisticated investors who took Iridium public in 1999. Of course, Motorola was the exclusive network and device manufacturer of the project, and so had complete technical control of the venture. So, if the service was bad in the center of metropolitan areas, or didn’t work in cars, or had an ugly phone (shown below), it was MOT’s problem to solve.

Anyways, the company filed chapter 7, liquidating some $5 billion in assets for $25 million. Of course, the big issue is that 75% of that $5 billion was paid to Motorola. A federal court in Manhattan will determine starting November 23rd, how much of that debt is the responsibility of Motorola. Despite the bickering, (MOT’s lawyers say it’s 20:20 hindsight at work and besides they too are on the hook for ~ $2 billion), Iridium Satellite is in operation with a new phone, a data solution for laptop users, an after-market aircraft installation kit, a new channel program, a new market and applications focus (forestry, government, disaster recovery, mining, construction, maritime, aviation), and now new leadership.


We think not. 😉

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