North Texas technology visionary, Anousheh Ansari, is making headlines again. Her company, Richardson-based Prodea Systems, announced Wednesday that it is acquiring Silicon Valley-based Arrayent Inc., creating the world's first IoT (Internet of Things) services platform.
Both companies specialize in connecting people and their devices to the Internet with the goal of improving quality of life. Prodea estimates the worldwide market for its products and services could be as much as $5 trillion by the year 2021.
The deal is just the latest bold move for Ansari. In 2006, she became the first female private space explorer when she financed her own trip to the International Space Station.
“It makes you feel small,” Ansari said in a recent interview with NBC 5. “At the same time, when you look at Earth, because everything shrunk, the problems also shrunk with it. So you feel empowered. You feel like all these problems we think are impossible, they’re not impossible.”
As CEO of Prodea, Ansari has tackled daunting challenges in some of the world’s poorest places. In remote parts of India, Prodea developed technology that turns conventional TVs into smart screens that can deliver everything from educational to banking and health care services.
“This is huge. They’ve never had access to so much data and information before,” Ansari said.
The acquisition of Arrayent will allow Prodea to further develop and expand similar capabilities to people around the world.
Ansari has also played a key role in jump-starting America’s booming private space industry. She and her family sponsored the $10 million ‘Ansari X-Prize’ for the first private team to fly into space twice within two weeks.
The success of Burt Rutan and ‘Spaceship One’ marked the beginning a new era now led by companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Ansari calls it the best investment she’s ever made.
“We put a few million for a prize and a $100 billion industry was created.”
More recently, Ansari found herself in the debate surrounding President Donald Trump’s travel ban. At this year’s Academy Awards ceremony she accepted an Oscar on behalf of film director Asghar Farhadi, who is from her native Iran.
“I was standing there as a person, as a human being, as someone who had a story to tell about emigrating to the U.S. and living a productive life here, and how the policies that were being discussed at the time could actually put an end to stories like mine,” Ansari told NBC 5.
With Prodea’s acquisition of Arrayent, the story is far from over. Ansari has even expressed an interest in making a return trip to space.
“I’m still trying to keep in shape, and when the opportunity comes, I’ll be ready," Ansari said.
In the meantime, Ansari is focused squarely on improving life on Earth.