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Iridium CEO Matt Desch Secures 10th Wash100 Award for Driving Company Growth Streak, Prioritizing Service Innovation

Executive Mosaic is thrilled to include Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium Communications, in the 2024 roster of Wash100 Award recipients in recognition of his exemplary leadership of the McLean, Virginia-based satellite communications company and his commitment to innovation. 

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This year marks Desch’s 10th Wash100 win– a notable feat in the award’s 11-year history of honoring the most influential and impactful leaders in the government and government contracting industry.

“I’m really honored to be recognized with such an impressive group of Washington area leaders. When first selected 10 years ago, Iridium was newly public and embarking on an ambitious $3 billion network refresh plan. Today, we’re widely recognized as a critical global resource, expanding into new areas like aircraft tracking, broadband and satellite time and location services. I’m only a veteran of this list because of the amazing team at Iridium, who’ve made all this growth possible and make it a great place to work,” said Desch.

Jim Garrettson, CEO of Executive Mosaic and founder of the Wash100 Award, said of Desch, “In his more than 17 years at the helm of Iridium, Matt has set the enterprise on a nine-year revenue growth streak, propelling the company on a path toward satellite communications dominance. As Iridium celebrates its 25th year and record-breaking growth in both government and commercial markets, we celebrate Matt’s tenth consecutive year of Wash100 recognition. Matt is tied for first place as the winningest Wash100 awardee since the award’s inception. His ambition, reliability and commitment to innovation are traits that continue to earn him a spot on our Wash100 list.”

Under Desch’s leadership, Iridium reported a record total revenue of $790.7 million for the full year 2023, a 10 percent hike from the prior-year period, and $194.7 million, including $148 million in service revenue, for total fourth-quarter revenue. This built on Q3’s total revenue of $197.6 million, $26.5 million of which came from U.S. government service and $125.5 million from commercial service.

“Iridium executed well in 2023, delivering another solid year of commercial services growth. Strength was broad based with subscriber growth across all commercial service lines,” said Desch. “Our strong cash flow supported ongoing return of more than $310 million of capital to shareholders, including dividend payments of about $65 million in 2023.”

Iridium secured contracts in the previous year and marked new partnerships and services.

Notably, the company was tapped to deliver broadband and midband capabilities to the U.S. Space Force under a potential 10-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. The Iridium Certus L-band terminals and service will be used to support the U.S. military’s effort to proliferate satellite communication services in low Earth orbit.

In addition, several contractors on the $900 million Proliferated Low Earth Orbit Satellite-Based Services vehicle are Iridium partners. They will perform services for a five-year base period and five option years.

Iridium, in May 2023, also sent five spare satellites to orbit as part of its 10-year constellation resilience plan. The spares were launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, bringing the company’s on-orbit spacecraft to 14.

“With all the new products and services enabled by our network, the launch of these spares shows our commitment to maintaining the gold standard of satellite network services,” commented Desch.

More recently, Iridium said it is developing Project Stardust, a narrowband-internet of things non-terrestrial network service based on 3GPP 5G standards, to enable direct-to-device capabilities like 5G NTN messaging and emergency SOS on mobile. The NB-NTN service is anticipated to undergo testing by 2025 and become operational by 2026. It will be deployed on the company’s existing constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites.

Another example of Iridium’s drive for innovation is its plan to increase spending on research and development efforts in 2024 and, according to Desch, expand into product areas that could help the company bank on longer-term growth opportunities.

“We want to maintain our lead in traditional areas of growth like IoT, mid-band data, and U.S. government services, and we also plan to undertake initiatives that augment future business growth,” said Desch. “Together, we believe these efforts will allow us to reach our long-term service revenue guidance of about $1 billion in 2030.”

Executive Mosaic congratulates Matt Desch and the entire Iridium team for their Wash100 recognition and looks forward to the executive’s continued GovCon industry impact for the rest of the year.

Don’t forget to cast your vote for Desch at Wash100.com.

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