Greg Wyler is at it again, spinning for all he is worth with a silly announcement about a constellation of hundreds of satellites. As previously reported, this system will never get off the ground for myriad technical, regulatory and financial reasons. Industry insiders tell us that Wyler gives the satcoms industry a bad name – he is persona non grata at the major trade events and has been described by one as a “snake oil salesman” so we thought we would dig around into his background.
He first made a splash in Rwanda, attempting to build a fibre and wireless network through the telco RwandaTel. RwandaTel collapsed, Wyler departed and the government took it over. The story of who invested in it and what money came out of it is less clear but a failure it most certainly was.
Wyler was sued for fraud in 1994/5 (Molex Inc. v. Wyler ) over a company called Silent Systems which he was involved in selling to Molex. Online records go silent after Wyler’s motion for summary judgement was dismissed, so perhaps he settled. There is certainly a long history of people accusing Wyler of poor business practices.
He flipped out of 03B AFTER persuading the French government to fund substantially all of the cost of the Thales built satellites and BEFORE the launch of the system. The first four satellites failed on launch and are currently the subject of an apparently contentious (and as yet not settled) total loss insurance claim.
The Wall Street Journal breathlessly reported baseless rumours of Wyler being involved in a new satellite venture firstly with Google then SpaceX. Finally he announced an indisclosed investment (so probably $nil) from Richard Branson. Branson’s Virgin Galactic space plane is not capable of launching satellites unless a Version 2 is developed, but Version 1 killed its test pilot over Christmas and is unlikely to fly any time soon. This does rather look like a costless spin campaign to draw attention away from the death of the pilot (and the grave difficulty the space tourism venture now faces which has left a lot of people nursing bruised wallets).
In general, it would seem advisable for mainstream media to look very closely at the substance of what Wyler says before reporting what he says as if it were credible.