Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
BA1 Rm 148
The topic of this EXCHANGE is based on the book ECCENTRIC ORBITS: The Iridium Story and the speakers will include the book author, John Bloom, and Dan Colussy, Chairman of Gemini Capital, LLC.
In the late 1980s, Motorola launched a wild idea developed in one of its research labs by Scientist Bary Bertiger and two colleagues – a satellite phone capable of reaching every inch of the planet. Iridium promised to be Motorola’s crowning achievement: with 66 satellites moving at 17,000 miles an hour in evenly spaced orbital paths over the poles, a call could go from Tibet to the Amazon rainforest with no noticeable delay and without it ever touching a ground line. But Iridium proved to be a commercial disaster for Motorola. $11 billion in debt and burning through $100 million a month, Iridium declared bankruptcy and Motorola tried to destroy the satellite constellation to avoid future liability.
One man, retired Pan Am World Airways President Dan Colussy, decided to save Iridium. Colussy’s tireless efforts had him piecing together funding from a motley group of international investors, conspiring with Iridium devotee Dorothy Robyn in the Clinton White House, making his case to the Pentagon and the FCC, and in the end saving the only phone that works at the ends of the earth. Iridium phones have saved tens of thousands of lives and proved indispensable in war zones, disaster areas and other settings including scientific research in parts of the globe that are otherwise inaccessible.
is a veteran investigative journalist who has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award three times, has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by United Press International for his eyewitness coverage of 9/11, and was for many years a syndicated columnist for The New York Times Syndicate. He has written for dozens of magazines and newspapers, including Rolling Stone, Playboy, Newsweek, The Village Voice, Washingtonian, Talk, and Texas Monthly, and appeared as a commentator on all the major networks. Born in Dallas, he’s a summa cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University who is currently based in New York City. His latest book is ECCENTRIC ORBITS: The Iridium Story.
Dan Colussy has served as Chairman of Gemini Capital, LLC since 2009, a venture capital group investing in new technologies in aerospace, aviation, power generation and environmental industries. From 2000 – 2009, 9/06, and as Chairman of the parent company, Iridium Holdings LLC from 12/00 to 12/09. Iridium Communication operates the world’s largest satellite constellation (66 operating satellites) and is currently a rapidly growing and profitable entity providing global voice and data communications services to numerous U.S. and foreign government agencies and commercial customers serving 900,000 subscribers. Iridium commenced the launch of the next generation of satellites in September 2016. Additionally, Dan is past Chairman, President and CEO of United Nuclear Corporation; past Chairman, President and CEO of Canadian Pacific Airlines in Vancouver, BC; and, past President and COO of Pan American World Airways in New York. He holds a BS in Engineering from U.S. Coast Guard Academy and an MBA from Harvard University. He currently resides in Jupiter, FL.
Business students register at coba.bus.ucf.edu/pass
All other students RSVP to Jennifer.Johnson@ucf.edu
Location:Business Administration I: 148